For generationâ€™s people have been touting the benefits of "fire-vinegars." "Fire-vinegar" is vinegar that has medicinal plants and spices added to it. For example, during the winter months we make strong spicy vinegar, as I will describe later, while in the spring we infuse the vinegars with violets or nettles. Although any vinegar can be used for the following recipe, including: white, rice or wine; nevertheless, apple cider vinegar tends to be the vinegar of choice. It is interesting to note that apple cider vinegar is the result of dual fermentation of naturally occurring sugars in apples. Initially, apples are pressed or crushed and their sugary juice is set aside to ferment into an apple cider, which in the next stage is further fermented into apple cider vinegar. This vinegar contains many natural ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and acetic acid. Being both antibiotic and antiseptic in helps neutralize toxins in the body. Because organically grown apples contain more minerals and enzymes than their non-organic counterparts, organically made versions of apple cider vinegar naturally contain more health benefits than the non-organic varieties.
To make a "fire-vinegar" that is strong and spicy for winter use, you will need: vinegar, honey, onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, chili peppers and a wide-mouthed glass jar preferably with a plastic or glass lid (vinegar can corrode a metal top). The ingredients for this recipe have been proportioned for one cup of vinegar.
- Put into the jar: three tablespoons of each of the following: chopped onion and garlic, fresh grated ginger and grated horseradish. If you cannot find fresh horseradish feel free to use the horseradish already prepared in jars at your local grocery store (that contains vinegar).
- Next add one tablespoon of either mustard seeds or black peppercorns, or both. Also add one or more whole cayenne chilies, or 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper, or one teaspoon of dried chili flakes.
- Stir all of the dry ingredients together, and then pour vinegar over the mixture to fill the jar. There should be about one inch of liquid above all of the other ingredients. Cap the jar with its lid.
- Let the mixture sit from two to four weeks, shaking the bottle daily to mix the herbs together with the vinegar. (Yes, you can use the "fire-vinegar" before the allotted time; however, the longer it stays the stronger it gets).
- After the two to four week interval, strain the mixture using cheesecloth, in order to extract all of the liquid from the herbs.
- Add 1/3 of a cup of honey to help preserve your "fire-vinegar" mixture.
- Pour the liquid contents into a clean bottle, then label and date it before storing it away in your cupboard.
These vinegars can keep for as long as two years. The vinegar can be poured over salads, used in soups, spread on poultry or in any recipe that requires vinegar. It can also be used as a medicine. If you ever feel sick, pull out your bottle of spicy "fire-vinegar" and take from a half to a teaspoon every few hours till you feel better. And for prevention of illnesses, take at least a half of a teaspoon daily, but not to exceed more than one teaspoon once to twice daily, or use liberally over salads.