Hands holding jar of fire cider

Harvest the Power of Plants

In Blog, Edibles, Fall, Feature, Seminars and Workshops by Megan Nichols

Long before modern medicine, plants were used to stay healthy, ward off sickness, and cure ailments. Currently, there is increasing interest in the purported healing power of plants, and research being devoted to find out just what there is to this age-old practice. We love plants, and we know we feel better when we grow and eat more of them, so we’re exploring what else they might be able to do.

On October 6, Tonkadale hosted two workshops that focused on the power of edible plants and how to extract their potential benefits. The participants learned all about the good stuff plants have to offer, and they made their own delicious fire cider and sauerkraut! Read on to make your own at home.

Fire Cider

The first workshop featured Jodi McKee, owner of Jewelweed in Wayzata.

Jodi McKee teaching fire cider workshop
Where others see a weed, Jodi sees a valuable plant. One such weed is burdock, which can be used as an ingredient in the folk remedy Fire Cider. It is thought to sooth the throat, clear sinuses, increase circulation, and generally increase wellness and ward off illness. It can be taken as a shot everyday or just when you feel a cold coming on. It can also be added as the base for homemade salad dressing or added to soups or lemonades! One way or the other, it’s a bit spicy and quite delicious! Below is a recipe that was adapted from Mountain Rose Herb and is, according to Jodi, merely a suggestion. Use all the ingredients here, or less or more, whatever you like!

Homemade Fire Cider Recipe

Fire Cider ingredients
Ingredients
• 1/2 cup fresh sliced or grated organic ginger root
• 1/2 cup fresh sliced or grated organic horseradish root
• 1 medium organic red onion, sliced or chopped
• 1 Tbsp Turmeric Powder or 1/4 cup fresh sliced root
• 10 cloves of organic garlic, chopped
• 2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped
• 1/2 organic lemon sliced
• Fresh Rosemary Sprigs (2-3)
• Fresh Thyme (handful)
• 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. Organic Cayenne Powder (or you can use 1/4 fresh pepper) Adjust as necessary.
• organic apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup of raw local honey, or to taste

Directions
1. Prepare your roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart-sized glass jar.
2. Pour the apple cider vinegar in the jar until all of the ingredients are covered and the vinegar reaches the jar’s top.
3. Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or a plastic lid if you have one.
4. Store for 4-6 weeks.
5. After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquidy goodness as you can from the pulp while straining.
6. Next comes the honey. Add and stir until incorporated.
7. Taste your cider and add more honey until you reach the desired sweetness. If the cider is too spicy you can dilute a bit with additional ACV. Remember it is best to start out with less cayenne and add more later if need be.

Young woman holding jar of fire cider

Herbal Ingredient Variations

These organic herbs and spices would make a wonderful addition to your Fire Cider creations: Rosehips, Star Anise, Schisandra Berry, Astragalus, Parsley, Burdock, Oregano, Peppercorns, Beets, Orange, Elderberry and more.

Fermentation

In our second workshop, Ky Guse of Gyst Fermentation Bar taught participants to make sauerkraut.

Ky Guse teaching fermentation workshop
Whether you’d like to make your own kraut or other fermented foods, or you plan to buy them from a good source, there are thought to be many benefits to eating fermented foods, along with countless ways to enjoy the delicious flavors.

All cultures around the world have used fermentation as a means of preserving food. Today we have the ability to transport food long distances, but fermentation is a way to keep fresh food from sources close to home on hand year around. And if there were ever a break in the current transportation system, the fermented produce would still be available, even in the dead of winter. Additionally, it preserves food without the use of energy, which is necessary for freezing or canning. As Ky puts it, “The energy is in the microbes!” because they produce energy from the nutrients in the food. The fermenting process is done anaerobically, simply meaning it happens without oxygen. As to whether or not it is safe to eat food prepared this way, Ky and other fermentation experts assure us “all is fine under the brine.”

Hands mixing cabbage for sauerkraut
Salt is the preservative, but it also hardens the pectin in vegetables, giving the veggies that nice, crisp texture. Ky tells us “your salt is your magic,” and when you taste the fermented food from Gyst, it’s easy to believe that’s true. Decreasing the salt could cause the veggies to be mushy. Use the suggested ratios and keep tasting the mix until you determine it’s where you like it.

So what can you ferment? Many, many vegetable varieties! And, mixing different veggies and herbs can be fun, too. Ky and her sister Mel get some of their ideas by just happening upon them. “Sometimes we just look at a recipe, like a soup, and think ‘those flavors sound delicious together.’”

To get all of the important information about understanding ratios of salt to cabbage (or other veggies) grab a class with Ky at Gyst or look for the next one at Tonkadale (date TBD).

Whether you make your own fermented foods and fire cider or buy them, be sure to get your fair share (maybe even a little more) of delicious fruits and veggies in all forms… a taste of summer goes a long way in beating the winter blahs!

Freshly mixed sauerkraut