I’ve noticed that when one season begins to transition into the next, people tend to get sick. Nothing serious, usually just a cold or flu-type bug, but just enough that it bogs them down, and slows their mental processes. If at all possible, I try to fend these sicknesses off, especially when I start seeing it in my family, friends, or co-workers.
When I feel a cold or flu coming on, I will instinctively reach for something spicy. It turns out, my instincts are right on the money. According to Dr. James A. Duke, “Hot peppers dilate blood vessels to clear out congestion. They also cause your nose and throat to produce a watery secretion that helps remove mucus…”. Hot peppers are major players in Sisu Cider, and really necessary when fighting off the colds and flus of the season. For this season’s particular batch, I used mostly jalapeños, but was also gifted some beautiful-looking habaneros.
Unfortunately, in true Minnesotan fashion, I am not a huge fan of spicy foods. Ever since I was little, I can remember picking peppers out of foods. And eating an entire dish of spicy food is not at all desirable for me. So harnessing all the spicy goodness into a single dose is a perfect option. That’s where Sisu Cider comes in.
Sisu Cider is made by fermenting a ton of good-for-you foods in apple cider vinegar, and extracting their goodness. These good-for-you foods tend on the spicy side, and when they are fermented and concentrated the spice gets revved up! Needless to say, you may need to work your way up to taking gulps or shots of this Sisu Cider. It is not for the weak of heart (or palate)!
Some of you may remember my explanation of the word “Sisu”. Sisu is a Finnish word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. The best single-word definition that I have found for Sisu is “gumption”. Sisu means great strength, both mentally and physically. Sisu is having courage, guts, and boldness. Sisu is almost like the Yiddish word “chutzpah”, but without the intonation of audacity. Like I said, there is no direct translation, but it definitely takes a bunch of sisu to drink this, and that is why I call it Sisu Cider!
The first ingredient of my Sisu Cider is turmeric. If you haven’t put turmeric in your regular cooking routine, start using it now! It is most widely-known for its anti-inflammatory properties that greatly reduce gastrointestinal discomfort. But, it is also antibacterial and antifungal. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, chemopreventive, chemosensitization, and radiosensitization activities. Woo hoo! I add turmeric to just about every dish that comes out of my kitchen. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, so sneaking it in is easy! 😉 Just be careful about the utensils that you use with it, as turmeric will stain things yellow! (Homemade clothing dye, anyone?!)
Up next is black peppercorns. When black pepper is added to turmeric, it increases turmeric’s bio-availability by over 2000%! You are more likely to get all the benefits from turmeric if you also add black pepper.
Garlic is also a major part of Sisu Cider. Garlic is a major health booster on its own. It has been shown to reduce or treat nearly 200 different maladies! When my family is traveling and feel a sickness coming on, we will run out for a few bulbs of garlic, and start eating them raw. I don’t recommend trying to swallow them like pills, because they are about the size of your esophagus, and that is a major choking hazard! We would peel the cloves and chew them up, or put them on tortilla chips. This has kicked many colds right out of my house!
Next up on the Sisu Cider ingredient list is ginger. Ginger has been widely used for motion sickness, indigestion, vomiting, and general upset stomach. I know I used to get ginger ale every time I stayed home sick from school with a tummy ache. Ginger also helped me get through morning sickness during the first trimester of my pregnancy. But ginger also contains some great antioxidants, and adding it to the Sisu Cider brew gives it a great flavor.
Horseradish is another major player in Sisu Cider. The way I see it, people are very particular about their horseradish. Some people like creamy-style horseradish, while others like a plain prepared horseradish. Others dislike horseradish altogether. But no matter what your preference, don’t leave this fresh and healthy root out of your Sisu Cider! Horseradish packs a powerful punch against all sorts of infections, and is a great addition to any cold or flu remedy!
Pulling all these ingredients together is apple cider vinegar (or ACV if you’re a fan of brevity). Many of you already know the astounding benefits of ACV, but I didn’t know about a lot of these benefits! Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties (it’s a great natural cleaner for the home!), antioxidant effects, anti-diabetic possibilites, weight loss possibilities, heart health benefits, heartburn relief, and increased nutrient absorption possibilites. Wow! I have heard of many people that take a teaspoon to tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water every day, and after looking at that long list of health benefits, I might just be one of those people now, too!
The beauty of this recipe, is that it isn’t really a recipe. I gather my ingredients, and as long as the ratios are somewhat the same each time, I will get similar results. If I’m short by a pepper or two, I don’t sweat it. The important part is that this Sisu Cider gets made!
Here’s how I made this batch:
Makes about 1 gallon of finished Sisu Cider
3 medium onions
4 bulbs garlic
1 large horseradish root (~13″)
1 large ginger root (~8″)
about 1 lb turmeric root knobs
20 jalapeño peppers
7 habanero peppers
3/4 cup black peppercorns
64 oz. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
a large glass jar with a lid (we used a gallon-sized pickle jar leftover from a local restaurant)
- Peel the onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger, and turmeric.
- Grate or shred the first seven ingredients into a large (1 gallon capacity) glass container. I used the shredding disc on my food processor to speed up the process. I leave the peppers whole, and shred them up, seeds and all.
- Pack the shredded ingredients into the glass jar, and pour the peppercorns and apple cider vinegar over everything.
- Cover the glass jar tightly, and shake it vigorously to mix everything up.
- Set your jar out of direct sunlight, and let it sit for about 3-6 weeks. Vigorously shake it a couple times a week.
- You will want to taste it every now and then, to check its progress. In the beginning, it will taste like apple cider vinegar with a little kick, but what you want is a kick, maybe with a little vinegar 😉
- When your Sisu Cider tastes the way you like, strain out the liquid from the solids. (Don’t throw away those solids! You can add them to some shredded cabbage and salt water to make the best sauerkraut you’ve ever tasted!) The liquid gold is your Sisu Cider. Pour it into glass bottles and seal tightly (mason jars are great for this). Those bottles will keep, refrigerated, for a very long time. We make one batch a season. Then when we get down to about a quart of Sisu Cider left, we start making the next batch, so it is ready by the time we are out.
When you’ve finished, you can start taking shots! Seriously, that is the best way to take this Sisu Cider. I would advise slowly working up to a shot, maybe starting with a tablespoon. Remember to shake it up before serving! When the flu looks like it’s about to hit in my house, the family all takes 2-ounce shots, every day, for three days. That will usually knock everything out, but if not, we will keep going.
I hope this has been helpful and informative, and perhaps it will help your family kick a few colds this year! It never hurts to be prepared!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is what works for my family, and our own health needs. Please consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting any vitamin or supplement regimen.