16 October, 2012

Review: Fire Cider Herbal Tonic

Fire Cider is a sort of traditional herbal folk remedy. If you listen to herbal medicine enthusiasts, you'll come away thinking that a daily dose of the stuff will turn you into superman.  A quick Google search will reveal a bunch of recipes for whipping up a batch or two...or, if you live close to the hill towns of Western Massachusetts, you can get it from Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield.  The bottle pictured at right is from Shire City. I bought it at The Big E from a pleasant young man who had set up shop on a rainy Thursday night right outside the Massachusetts Building at the fair.

He was offering small samples of Fire Cider in little plastic cups. I sniffed at it tentatively and it seemed safe enough, so I tossed it back like a boss.

It was an experience.

You see, Fire Cider is based on organic apple cider vinegar, in which various aromatic and allegedly medicinal herbs have been steeped. Like horseradish, garlic, and hot peppers.  Shire City also adds honey, which helps take the sharpest edges off of the vinegar.

Anyway, that little shot kicked me in the face, but at the same time I kind of liked it. I have an affinity for strong flavors, but I also could recognize that this stuff has potential for kitchen use as well (more on that later.) I bought two bottles.

As a medicine or a tonic or a panacea, I'm undecided. I'll be honest, I don't put a whole lot of belief in many herbal remedies. It's not that I don't think any of them work - I know that a lot of them do - it's just that I'm really leery of the almost fanatical enthusiasm that true devotees often display, especially on line. It reminds me of Frank Zappa's Cosmik Debris

The mystery man got nervous
And he fidget around a bit
He reached in the pocket of his mystery robe
And he whipped out a shaving kit
Now I thought it was a razor
And a can of foaming goo
But he told me right then when the top popped open
There was nothin’ his box won’t do
With the oil of aphrodite,
and the dust of the grand wazoo
He said you might not believe this, little fella
But it’ll cure your asthma too
I will say one thing about the possible medicinal properties of Fire Cider: I had a nasty sore throat and took a shot of the stuff, and it totally kicked that sore throat's ass, like a good folk remedy should - just like the common lemon-and-honey home remedy I'm sure everybody's heard about.

But not surprisingly, I'm more impressed with the culinary uses I've found for Fire Cider.

It makes a great basis for a barbecue mop. Very tasty, especially with the horseradish and ginger in there.

A jigger of Fire Cider in a vinaigrette salad dressing really kicks it up a couple of notches.

It's really good in cole slaw dressing - just a splash really wakes it up.

I've only started experimenting with Fire Cider, and I expect I'm going to find a bunch of other ways to use it. I doubt I'm going to toss back a shot of it every day as a preventative tonic, but you never know. I'm open-minded enough about it that when flu season starts up in earnest, I might just start tossing down a daily dose.


Shire City Herbals' website is www.firecider.com


Scott Spolverino said...

I wrapped a newspaper 'round my head
So I'd look like I was deep.
I said some mumbo-jumbo then
I told him he was going to sleep.
I robbed his rings and pocketwatch
And everything else I found.
I had that sucker hypnotized
He couldn't even make sound.

Amazing song, amazing album, amazing artist. <3 me some Frank Zappa.

rfriends said...

This product is being mass produced by a company who are not even herbalist.

They have staked a claim to a remedy which was developed by the celebrated herbalist Rosemary Gladstar over 35 yrs ago.

They have now trademarked the name which they did not coin to a product they did not create.

You are not getting much more than flavored vinegar. Buyer beware and make your own! Easy to do.