Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feel the (Fire Cider) burn!

Last week, we dug out our first horseradish harvest.  I dragged took the entire Truffula Gang out to the garden with me to look and dig:

Not exactly beauties, but worth gold to me!
I should have weighed the bounty.  In any case, we unearthed several pounds of zing-y goodness.  It's quite an interesting plant -- the roots wander out in all directions.

 As I've been learning about herbal remedies, mentions of and recipes for Fire Cider (also referred to as Master Tonic) kept coming up.

I'll admit it - the recipe was one I had to consider for a long time before making it.  It called for quantities of Very Spicy Things which push me to the limits of my tongue's comfort level. But, in the end, it wasn't about my tongue; it was about a remedy to support my health.  (And, in the end, I discovered happily that the yowza level of the ingredients mellowed out nicely in the finished product.)

After deciding to take the plunge for my inaugural batch last year, the next step was procuring the necessary horseradish.  I knew just where to find a great piece of root - our dear, local CSA, where I had lovingly weeded around it during while volunteering. They kindly hooked me up with a few chunks.
Cautious about how I'd fare with the recipe, I scaled it down to a trial-sized batch. It turned out to use only 1/4 cup of horseradish! What to do with the rest, especially after having specially procured it? I did what any green she-ro would do: I scraped up the already-grated bits, and put them into the refrigerator for future culinary exploits, and then... headed out to the garden.

I tucked bits of horseradish into the ground here and there, kind of like the squirrels with their acorns.  I didn't label a thing.  <Sigh> I always think I'll remember where I have planted what, only to promptly forget those details.  Helpfully, horseradish has large huge, distinctive leaves: it was like Christmas in Spring as I walked around spotting them.

So, fast-forward to now, when the hacking and sniffling around me, and urgent media coverage about surges in flu incidence, were ever-present reminders that I needed to replenish my Fire Cider stash.  I got my supplies lined up: apple cider vinegar... in supply; garlic... check!; ginger... had some frozen young root from a local farm in the freezer; onion... on the grocery list; horseradish... yes! All I needed now was the right date.

I waited until the next new moon (supposedly a good time for starting new herbal preparations), and set to work. It took me over an hour -- maybe even two -- to slice-and-dice my ingredients. Every time my thoughts wandered to "This is taking forever!", I refocused on thinking positive thoughts about the remedy I was preparing. Having learned my lesson last year, I knew to be prepared for the full-on burn of the horseradish.  I had a handkerchief at the ready for when my eyes began to tear and my nose began to gush.  (No worries - I washed my hands after each round of wiping and blowing.)

Here's the Fire Cider recipe I used this year (minus the cayenne pepper.  I substituted with ground cayenne instead).  I've got a quart-sized jar a-brewing!

It will feel good to have my remedy shelf restocked.  What feels just as good is that the "excess" from the horseradish root I got late last Fall multiplied such that I was able to grow out enough for my own use, PLUS gift six other people with this year's harvest!  I'm so grateful!

The Fire Cider sits right next to my Elderberry Tincture. What are your tried-and-true homemade remedies? And, what gardening "gifts" have you payed forward?

To our health!


Jenn the Greenmom said...

I LOVE this stuff! But when I made it I cheated--I bought a jar of pre-prepared horseradish.

Once it's done, how will you consume it? In juice, or straight, or? (I used to dilute it in a little apple juice most of the time, but a sipping-type shot of it warmed up at night was sort of awesome.)

Truffula said...

I take straight squirts under the tongue from a dropper. Warmed up (maybe even with a dollop of honey) sounds good -- Who'd have thought I'd ever say that?! Who-ee! I've come a long way!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

This sounds fascinating. Heaven knows we could use less illness around here. My home remedies consist of fresh lemon juice and spoonfuls of honey. My mom loves horseradish. Hot stuff is supposed to be good for you on many levels - right?


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