2014: The Great Fire Cider Rebellion

Posted on February 2, 2014. Filed under: Herbal Medicine Making, Influences |

You might not know it, but today is a special day.  It’s World Fire Cider Day!  A day to make and celebrate this most awesome of creations in Herbalism.  It dates back generations and was popularized by the most gracious Rosemary Gladstar starting back in the 1970s.

This event was inspired in response to a certain company who makes their own version, a cider that…

The Cider that Shall Not Be Named

The Cider that Shall Not Be Named

Must Not Be Named!  😉

But recently trademarked it and has been trying to block others from using this decades old name!

This is pretty well documented in blogs like these:

So I won’t go over all that again – since they cover it so very well.  But in the spirit of the day I’m sharing the Fire(d) Cider I made today.

Essentially, this awesome brew is a vinegar, or Oxymel (vinegar/honey blend) infused with powerful antimicrobial herbs (often onions, garlic, horseradish and peppers) so it is a pungent, spicy, sweet dose of awesome cold/flu fighting power.

  • Vinegar (16 ounce)
  • Honey (about a cup)
  • Ginger (a good stalk or so)
  • Garlic (nice head)
  • Onion – 2 onions
  • Cinnamon chips (spicy)
  • Black peppercorns – couple of tablespoons
  • Lemon (1 whole)

Fired Cider - Honey, Vinegar and Black Pepper (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Fired Cider – Honey, Vinegar and Black Pepper (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Instead of the usual Apple Cider Vinegar I sometimes use a Coconut vinegar (which is nifty and doesn’t actually taste like coconut) like I did today.  And instead of just run of a mill honey, I use a Brazilian Pepper Honey which is a peppery and awesome honey made by bees gathering pepper nectars!    Instead of jalapenos, or other peppers, I use black peppercorns.

Fired Cider - Garlic, Ginger, Lemon and Onion (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Fired Cider – Garlic, Ginger, Lemon and Onion (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Of course there is the usual crew of Garlic, Ginger and Onions.  But while most folks use horseradish. I usually skip it since I rarely find fresh, organic horseradish around here.  Plus I’m not a big fan of it.    I also throw in a lemon, and some spicy cinnamon chips!

I chop up the fresh stuff and mix it together with the other herbs and throw them in a quart mason jar.  Then I mix the vinegar and honey well in a measuring cup and pour it in the jar as well.

Top with some wax paper (to protect the lid from the vinegar and protect the mixture from the lid!), cover and ta – da!

Fired Cider - brewing, brewing, brewing (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Fired Cider – brewing, brewing, brewing (image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism)

Magic has begun.

Ignore the Orange on the left.  It’s just photobombing the picture.  Oranges – so desperate for attention sometimes.   Don’t worry Orange, I’ll be making some bitters later and you’ll get to play then.

Depending how patient you are and whether it feels right to you – shake it regularly for a few weeks (some go for two to three, while I tend to be a four to six week man myself) and then filter out the solid bits and enjoy!

I know what you’re thinking – hey that isn’t the way I learned it or make it.  Nope it isn’t.  That’s kind of the point.

The path of true Herbalism, IMO, is all about experimentation, change and growth.  We all do our own thing.  Some is similar to the ways we learned from those who have gone before and taught us and some is what we bring to the table.   We all have our own fire ciders, etc. and they are all fire cider – like there are many chocolate cakes out there.

I think that is what Rosemary brought to the table in her teachings.  Open Source Herbalism, where we all learn, grow and participate – building on a heritage(s) and history in our unique ways.

It’s one of the reasons I use this picture I took a while back for the Boston Herbal Salons I run in Boston:

Community of Plants (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Community of Plants (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Lots of different things all together and building a vibrant whole.   It’s a beautiful path.

That other “vision” which this day was inspired in reaction to – is one of separation, stifling and stagnation – the opposite of healing, growth and a joyous life.

So learn from others, experiment yourself, make your own magic and support others in theirs. 🙂

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Influences: The Forest by Roger Caras

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: Book Reviews, Influences | Tags: |

Sage Butterfly came up with a great idea on how to show appreciation for Earth and combine it with a love a reading by having a blog contest for folks to “share what books inspire them to live or garden more sustainably.” (Sage Butterfly’s Earth Day Reading Project)

Since my passion for nature and books rank pretty high in my life, I I wanted to give it a spin and spent considerable time thinking about what book would I focus on. There were several contenders which I’ll talk about another day, but my first choice was The Forest by Roger Caras.

Cover to The Forest by Roger Caras

Caras’ book always held a special magic for me, because it was the book that really got me seeing the hidden and connected world in nature. It’s a narrative view of a forest exploring the life, and lives, of everything within it from the most microscopic to the largest plants and animals.

What made it powerful for me was the way it invoked the sense of how much life, connections and activity are essentially invisible to us. Its tales of the complex life in the soil to the animals that hide from us, the struggles and interactions that occur around us made me realize what we see and we think we know is only a portion of a much larger and mostly elusive whole.

The seed it planted, so to speak, grew over the years both connected to new understanding and old pieces of knowledge:

  • The way plants and fungi form communities sharing nutrients and information beneath the soil.
  • The chemical messages plants share
  • The language of scents, unnoticed by us, that animals and insect live in
  • The many times we attempt to shape the natural world only to have it change in unexpected ways
  • The complex community of life that lives inside us and our health depends on

From that I understood that we don’t live as part of the food chain we were foolish taught as children, with humans conveniently on top. Or even a food web which still sounds like something we master. Instead we are a thread in a much broader and vastly interconnected tapestry of life.

Pulling threads and altering threads has unforeseen effects. The more we alter it to suit ourselves, the more fragile the whole becomes. We need to live sustainably or risk unraveling it and ourselves in the process.

For me that powerful realization grew from that beginning of insight contained in Caras’ book.

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