I was camping (cabining?) in Western MA a few years ago and took a day trip out to this amazing little café/co-op/bakery place we had stumbled on. This was one of our rare camping trips where it wasn’t raining. That’s the advantage of a January trip, after all. We got snow instead. So we were just killing time and trying to stay warm. We got to talking with the clerk, who had a display on her counter of something called Fire Cider. It looked rather like a ketchup dispenser at a football game, with a big pump and a little exit spout.
For $.75 you could get a shot of Fire Cider. But what is Fire Cider? Apparently it’s an apple cider vinegar based health tonic. The Huffington Post had a great description for it. “Fire Cider is one of those grandma-style cold and hangover remedies that is designed to be one part soothing, one part refreshing, and one part BURNING-IT-OUT-OF-YOU!”
It’s an apt description. I ponied up my $.75 and got a shot of it. With my wife and the clerk laughing at me, I knocked it back. It certainly woke me up. It was kind of sweet, kind of tangy, and kind of fiery. It made my nose run and my eyes pop out…but not in a bad way. In fact, I rather liked it.
Then I gave it no more thought for a while. Except…it kept coming back to mind. I couldn’t even remember the name. I wanted to call up this cute bakery in Western, MA (whose name I also couldn’t remember) and try to describe it to them. “Hey, I was there a few years ago. You convinced me to drink this weirdly refreshing thing. Umm..no, I don’t know what it was called. Err…no, I don’t know what it was made it of. Well…it kind of looked like a ketchup dispenser, but not. So, yeah, do you still carry it?” I gave up, but the thought nagged at me.
Fire years later… the kids are old enough for a stay in those winter cabins. And, so, earlier this month, we were finally back in Western MA.
You can bet the first thing I did in preparation was google around to figure out the what that amazing cafe/co-op/bakery place was. It took a little while to find, but turned out that it was the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington, MA. Worth a visit, by the way.
No snow on this trip. With temperatures fluctuating wildly between -5 to 10 degrees, it was too cold to snow. In fact, it was too cold to do much of anything, other than snuggle up to the wood stove. You can see by the melted mitten here that I had an Icarus moment and snuggled a little too close to the sun (err…woodstove).
Although they bore up well, that kind of cold is tough on the little kids. By day 3, a field trip to a bakery was definitely in order. Preferably one with hot cocoa. When we went in, I dumped the kids at a table up front and wandered around. To my disappointment, I didn’t immediately see any weird drink dispenser by the counter. Not giving up, I paced the aisles and found a display in the back corner of the store. Apparently it was called Fire Cider, and they sold it by the bottle.
I also took a picture of the ingredient list. They said it was an old New England herbal remedy. Maybe I could try making it at home.
You can’t really make it out in this picture, but the ingredients are basically apple cider vinegar, horseradish, ginger, tumeric, onion, garlic, lemon, orange, hot peppers, and honey. Fire cider indeed! They gave me a sample from the dispenser. Talk about a drink designed to clear out your sinuses. After three days of camping with the woodstove running 24/7, there was a lot to clear out.
I bought about a cup of the potion and brought it home. I’ve been taking roughly a table spoon of it every morning as a pick me up. And pick me up it does. Here’s to home herbal recipes!
Alas, after two weeks, I’m running out. Time to try making my own. (see part 2)