Saturday, 21 April 2018

Preparing for 2018's Winter Chills

Last year I made a version of Fire Cider for the first time. I was disappointed at the time to find that the horseradish I had planted didn't grow very well so I planted the root again and hoped for a better outcome this year. I have two plants in the ground and one in a large pot so I firstly had a look at the one in the pot and wasn't terribly happy but there was enough of the root to use in a bottle of Fire Cider. I still have to dig up the roots in the ground which hopefully have grown larger and will make up another bottle using the recipe from last year but will add horseradish as well.

I have also taken the plunge and am making a few different vinegars as an experiment such as.....

...this one using the odds and ends of apples.I used this Apple Cider Vinegar recipe which really isn't a recipe at all as it is just apple and water. Some of the versions I looked at added sugar...

...which was the case with the recipe I used to make this  Pineapple Vinegar  to which I added some coconut sugar which had been sitting in the cupboard for ages. Presumably it doesn't go 'off'. It looks a bit grotty at the top of the bottle but that was where it was frothing away a couple of days ago but that has stopped now so I am wondering what is going to happen next.

The lovely cover was made by the clever Shiralee from A Peaceful Homemaker who lives just around the corner from me.

Something else I have been meaning to make for quite a while is Four Thieves Vinegar. I guess all my readers have heard the story about the four thieves.  There are quite a few different recipes online but in the end I made one based on the Rustic Thieves Vinegar recipe. I just threw in oregano, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, a few chillies, a cinnamon stick, chocolate mint, sage, cloves, peppercorns and a head of garlic. That should pack a punch in a few weeks time when it is ready to use.

Now to tell you the sad story about my elderberry syrup which I made a couple of days ago using this recipe Homemade Elderberry Syrup.

I have mentioned before that Rhonda gave me a plant taken from her elderberry bush about three years ago and I have been patiently waiting for the berries to appear which they finally did a few months ago.  I was so excited to see them so have been very careful when picking them when they were ripe so that I didn't waste any and then they were frozen until I had enough to make some syrup. Finally this week the last of the berries ripened so I made up a bottle of syrup using the recipe in the above link. The recipe said to add honey which I did but I knew that the ants would probably try to get into the bottle so I put it in the fridge straight away. 

I was busy doing this and that afterwards and noticed that the CEO had opened a huge container of olives and had put them into smaller bottles as we can't fit large ones in our fridge. However, I saw a small container of olives sitting there and thought that they would just fit into the bigger bottle in the fridge so I poured them in and didn't think twice about it until a family member said they wanted to try the elderberry syrup. Well, I searched high and low for that bottle which I was SURE I had put in the fridge but it was nowhere to be seen. 

You know where this is going don't you...I had poured the olives into the elderberry syrup!!!! Now, if I had been wearing my glasses I probably wouldn't have made this mistake but I was so disappointed after all that work. Oh well! I will just have to wait till next year now :-(

I have been asked what recipe I used for the Fire Cider so here it is if anyone wants to make it. It is based on one I got it from a friend so am not sure where the original recipe came from.

1/2 cup horseradish, peeled and diced (I bought mine from Green Harvest)
1 head garlic, peeled and diced
1 orange, quartered and sliced
1 lemon, quartered and sliced 
1 onion, peeled and diced
1/c cup ginger, peeled and diced
1/2 cup turmeric, peeled and diced
12 or so black peppercorns
Chillies, I added about four Bird's Eye chillies
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 chopped thyme

Place all  ingredients in a suitable jar and cover with raw unfiltered vinegar then cap the jar. Don't use a metal lid. Shake well and store in a dark cupboard. Shake daily until ready for use in 4-6 weeks. Strain it into a clean jar and add honey to taste.

There is a lot of information online about how to use Fire Cider so choose what appeals to you. Last year I ran out of the concoction so will make two batches for this winter as the powers that be tell us it is going to be another bad flu season as a number of people have already succumbed to it before winter even starts. 

Let me know if you make anything like this in preparation for winter as we can all learn from each other. 


  1. Oh, your elderberry syrup! I can't imagine elderberry and olives going together well. I imagine you were kicking yourself, Chel! I am hoping the flu stays well clear of our place this year, I have a whole big bottle of jellybush honey for any lurgy that comes knocking. Your fire cider looks like it will be a potent brew! Meg:)

    1. No I wasn't too happy, Meg. It took just so long to get to the berry stage and then to lose the syrup :-( At least we have the fire cider.

  2. I've never had elderberry syrup. There's this tree full of white flowers in my backyard and someone told me it was elderberry. Now, after seeing the close up photo of elderberry flowers I think mine is not elderberry. :)

    1. Nil, there might be different types of elderberry but I am no expert. The flowers on mine are very pretty. Perhaps ask at a plant nursery to identify your plant.

  3. oh, how disappointing about the syrup. Hopefully plenty of berries next year to go again. Thanks for including the fire cider recipe - I'm going to give that a go. I like the look of some of the other vinegars too. You've been busy.

    1. Laura I made another lot of fire cider up today without the citrus fruit so it will be interesting comparing the two.

  4. Dear Nanna Chel, I love the Thieves Vinegar! It looks amazing and potent! Also what a shame about the Elderberry! Patsy makes Fire Cider and this looks powerful stuff. I am thinking a lot of winter and flu season and just now it is so warm it is like summer again... but soon this will disappear and then suddenly be cold I guess. I am trying to stock the freezer with some good chicken soup with loads of garlic. I think I will get some cider fire and thieves vinegar going. Thank you. With love

    1. I wish I had a bigger freezer so I could stock up on chicken soup, Annabel. When I got the flu last year it is all I felt like having. Hopefully I won't get it again this year.

  5. Guess I'm the only one that never heard about fire cider, how do you use fire cider?

    1. Sue, you can take 1-2tablespoons of fire cider a the first sign of a cold and then every few hours afterward. It can also be taken as a preventative. There are lots of ideas about how to use it online. Just do a search for Fire Cider and you will find lots of variations as well.

  6. You must have been so annoyed about the elderberry. I made some last year for the first time to take throughout the winter and stay healthy which, fingers crossed, I have. Have never come across Fire Cider before, but very interested in its immune fighting properties

    1. Hi I tried to leave a comment on your blog the other day but I got a 'Delivery status notification (failure) saying that the address couldn't be found or is unable to receive mail'. Not sure what the problem was.


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