The Hippie Tonic That's Keeping Me Healthy This Winter

It smells bad, but it works wonders on your immune system.
Publish date:
December 7, 2014
health, recipes, diy fire cider, home remedies, master tonic, natural health remedies

Last sumer I got a horrible cold, the kind that makes your head feel like a marshmallow of snot and phlegm. That's when my friend Kelly gave me a tiny jar of weird-smelling liquid. And thus began my obsession with the Master Tonic, the malodorous brew with what are said to be immune-boosting properties.

Sometimes referred to as “fire cider,” it’s a favorite among homeopathic types who brew the stuff at home. Devotees claim it kills viruses and bacteria, and that it helps your immune system in myriad ways. I actually think that taking a tablespoon or two during my cold helped me kick it to the curb quicker.

The Master Tonic is a crazy mix of fermented, spicy stuff you likely already have in your kitchen. The idea is that fermentation heightens the health benefits of the ingredients, like the antioxidants in garlic and the anti-nausea powers of ginger. There are all sorts of recipes floating around on the Internet, including ones that add citrus and other herbs, but I stuck with the basics.

How To Make Your Own Master Tonic

  1. Put equal parts diced garlic, jalapeno pepper, ginger, horseradish, and onion in a big old jar. I used one that would hold about a gallon of the stuff, which meant using about two cups of each ingredient, and a food processor to save time.
  2. After everything is chopped, pour a large amount of apple cider vinegar on top (a whole bottle would do it; it’s not an exact science). Let the concoction sit in a dark corner for two or more weeks. When the two weeks are up, strain the liquid through a colander lined with cheesecloth. What’s left is an uber-intense tonic that looks vaguely like beef broth.

What You Can Expect

I’m not going to lie to you: The taste is intense. It’s strong and not particularly pleasant, although I hear some people dig it. I sip a little of the Master Tonic when I feel the sniffles coming on, or if I feel particularly tired or run-down. I also take it if I’ve been around sick people. And so far, I think it’s working, because I haven’t caught a cold since summer. Recommendations on dosage range from a tablespoon per day to a shot glass when you’re feeling sick. You can also use the Master Tonic as a marinade, in salad dressing, or a way to give your soup a little kick. It’s a multitasker, that Master Tonic.

Disclaimer: This article is not an endorsement of the health claims associated with the Master Tonic. Please talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you are thinking of making or taking.

  • Have you ever tried the Master Tonic? Did it work?
  • What are your favorite home remedies?