Wild Fermented Fire Cider

It's been very cold and rainy for a bit this week in Baton Rouge, which means a lot of people are about to get sick with viruses. And let me just say the cold and wet doesn't directly make you sick.  People in Louisiana are adapt to humid wet air, but when a cold front comes through bringing dry cold wind... everything changes for our sinuses. Our sinuses dry out quite a bit, allergies are in full force from the wind, and our sinuses take quite the toll. When that happens our sinuses are more exposed, cracked and dried out making it easier for viruses to infect us via our mucus membranes. Viruses infect bodies through body fluids and mucus membranes and cold dry air just makes us more vulnerable. 

I don't think Scotty or I have been sick this year. Ever since we transitioned to a vegan household, started eating our fermented vegetables with every meal for blog posts and instagram photos, and quit our horrible & stressful day jobs... well, we've never felt healthier. A healthy life starts with a healthy gut, a low stress environment, and a healthy mind. Our digestion has never been better and we just feel all around awesome. My eczema, which plagued my life for four years... all over my face, eyelids, and arms is even gone. I mean gone. I get a tiny flare up if I take a too hot shower, but that's nothing compared to how I used to suffer. It's amazing what a nourished gut, nourished skin and happiness can do for your life. 

Anyways, no matter how healthy you are, you can still catch a cold or the flu this time of year...Let's talk about that for a second: 

The common cold and the flu are VIRUSES not bacteria. 90% of the time when you think you have a "bacterial sinus infection" you don't have a sinus infection... You actually have a virus, causing sinus inflammation. 

Antibiotics do not treat viruses... Let me repeat this... Antibiotics do not treat viruses. Viruses are unaffected by antibiotics. One of the main reasons (after animal agriculture) for deadly antibiotic resistant superbugs is the wrongful, careless prescribing of antibiotics for colds by physicians. I job shadowed a physician for a week in college once. It was January and it was cold outside. It was the year it snowed quite a bit in Louisiana. He let me know that most of the people we'd be seeing were going to be in there for suspicion of a sinus infection. He also let me know that people were going to expect, and some would insist on, antibiotics. He was not going to give them though. He had studied microbiology as his undergraduate degree in college, and had more of an appreciation for the microbes than most physicians. He was great. Of the 15 patients we saw the first morning we gave out zero prescriptions of antibiotics. He told me that most physicians will just give them antibiotics to shut the patients up... you know, just give them what they want. That royally pissed me off, because the wrongful prescription of antibiotics should be malpractice... It directly harms the patient and can cause serious damage and multitudes of other illnesses, some of which are deadly. 

 
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There's not much you can do to help cure the common cold. It's a virus that quickly changes and runs it's course, so there's not a western medicine magic pill to make it go away. Just your immune system, that's all you have when it comes to fighting off the common cold.

The flu is a little different, there are medications to help with the flu if you contract the virus. Unfortunately, the flu vaccine is not very effective. Scotty and I do not get the flu shot. I took an extensive graduate school course in virology, and I've come to know that the flu shot is...well... basically irrelevant and ineffective. Washing your hands and not touching your face, mouth and eyes while out in public is a great way to prevent contracting the flu virus. 

If you catch the cold or flu virus this year, there are at home remedies to help with symptoms; Remedies that can also help your immune system fight back to health. When you have a cold or the flu virus, the best thing you can do is provide your immune system with all the tools it needs to succeed, as well as protecting your body from more infections while your immune system is busy fighting off viruses.  

 
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Our favorite at home remedy is our wild fermented fire cider. Our recipe for fire cider is a little different than the usual and it is full of vitamins, nutrients and essential minerals for proper immune system function. Since we wild ferment it  (instead of using apple cider vinegar) there's billions of gut healthy microorganisms included to nourish the gut microbiome... and a nourished gut microbiome is your first line of immune defense. The fire cider is quite spicy and potent, for a good reason. The spicy nature of fire cider helps to stimulate mucus production in the sinuses, providing moisture where it is needed, and easing the symptoms of sinus cavity inflammation. Our Wild Fermented Fire Cider recipe is also unique in the fact that it contains wheatgrass and turmeric. The turmeric adds an extra anti-inflammatory boost, and the wheatgrass adds a boost in Vitamin A, C, E, K and several B vitamins. Wheatgrass also provides iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium making it wonderful for immune system support.  We suggest taking one tablespoon of this fire cider twice a day when you feel a cold coming on. 

If you are sick and need it now, or DIY fire cider just isn't for you, our favorite fire cider you can purchase is Andi Lynn's. It isn't wild fermented, so the same probiotic benefits aren't there...but it's still a ridiculously fantastic product that can help with the cold and flu.  She is local for us and a good friend. She makes hotlistic and natural elderberry products and fire cider. Check her awesome products out here.

 

Wild Fermented Fire Cider

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Red Onion Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Ginger Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Garlic, Chopped or Crushed
  • 1 Jalapeno, Chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Tuermeric Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Wheatgrass Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cayenne
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • Cultured Guru Fermentation Salt
  • Fermentation Weights

Takes

Brine Method: The brine method we use to make Fire Cider is to chop and then weigh the ingridients, and then add 2.5% of that weight in salt, then to add a 2.5% salt water solution. The brine method will be explained in the recipe steps. Read the science behind salt conenctration here.

We highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale for about $10 from Target or Amazon. If you're going to master fermentation and select for the best probiotic bacteria in your ferments, you'll need one to weigh salt. Weighing salt is the only way to create an accurate salt concentration.  The scale we use in our home kitchen is this one.

Instructions

  1. First, make a 2.5% saltwater brine. To do this, put an empty large jar on your kitchen scale, and tare the scale. Fill the jar with warm filtered water and record the weight of the water (in grams).
  2. Next multiply the weight of the water by 0.025, the number you get is the amount in grams of salt you need to add to the water.
  3. Place a small separate bowl on your scale and tare the scale. Weigh out your Fermentation Salt in grams. 
  4. Add your salt to the water and stir it in until it dissolves. Then let the mixture cool. 
  5. While the salt water cools, chop the ingridients.  
  6. Place an empty bowl on your kitchen scale and tare it. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl and record the weight in grams. Using the same math method as you did for the brine, multiply the weight of your ingredients by 0.025. The number you get is the grams of salt you need to add.
  7. Place a small separate bowl on your scale and tare the scale. Weigh out your Fermentation Salt in grams. 
  8. Add your salt to the ingredient and mix until evenly distributed. If mixing with your hands, you may want to wear gloves so your hands don't burn from the pepper.
  9. Once you have mixed the ingredients and the salt thoroughly, it is time to add the mixture into a jar. We used a pint sized mason jar for this recipe.
  10. Place a fermentation weight in the jar to hold everything down. Then once the saltwater brine you made is cool, pour it over the fire cider ingredients and fermentation weight until everything, including the fermentation weight is submerged. 
  11. Store your fermentation jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. It should be kept in an area that stays around 70-75 degrees F
  12. During the first few days of fermentation carbon dioxide and  bubbles will be produced. During this time you will need to burp the jar. To burp the jar, just remove the lid to let the gas out and check to make sure everything is still submerged below the brine. You must make sure that your fermentation weight and all ingredients are staying submerged BELOW the brine. You may have to press everything down with a spoon/tamper a few times. 
  13. When fermenting fire cider you should not experiance a loss of brine. But if you do lose brine during the first few days (which is possible in very full jars when bubbles are produced) use steps 1-4 to make a salt solution to replace the lost brine. Replacing lost brine can only be done during the first 4-5 days. Adding brine after that will dilute acid present in the ferment, disrupt bacterial sucession, and cause the ferment to not be properly preserved. 
  14. Your fire cider mixture should ferment for 4 weeks, so that all the stages of bacterial succession can occur. The time line is a little different from a cabbage fermentation, due to a different micorbial population on a multitude of different ingredients. 4 weeks also allows enough time for the final stage Lactobacillus bacteria to produce enough lactic acid to drop the pH to preservation levels. Visit our Science of Fermentation blog to read more about the stages of fermentation!
  15. Once the fermentation process is complete, the mixture will smell pleasantly sour and spicy.
  16. After 4 weeks, add the entire contents of the fire cider fermentation to a blender or food processor and blend for about 2 minutes.
  17. Strain off the liquid into a new jar using a mesh top strainer or cheese cloth.
  18. Add the juice of one lemon if you desire. This is not required, but the flavor is nice. Then Refrigerate. It will last for about 6 months in the fridge.
  19. Save the solid matter from the ferment for recipes where you'd like a little heat and garlic flavor. It's great in curry and ramen. We like to freeze it and add it to different recipes.
  20. We tracked our Fire Cider throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages under the microscope we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline for Wild Fermented Fire Cider should approximately match ours!

    24 - 72 hours: all contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria and possible pathogens present.

    72 hours - 5 days: After 72 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. This is the stage in which you will burp the jar. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Gram negative organisms die off.

    5 - 14 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The fire cider mixture will become cloudy and start to develop a pleasant sour, spicy and garlic smell. Lactobacillus species are most abundant during this time period.

    14 - 28 days: Lactobacillus make up majority or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid, and make the ferment smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes preserved. This is when you want to smell and taste test.

    30 days: Follow steps 17-19 to complete the making of your Wild Fermented Fire Cider.

Peace, Love and Probiotics,

Kaitlynn Fenley

Scott Chachere