Winter Remedies | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Winter Remedies

We cannot overcome the tasteless, yet still bitter, truth: Being sick sucks.

click to enlarge Winter Remedies
Illustration by Madalyn Hochendoner
Garlic is a pungent but effective curative in fire cider.

Colds plug our senses, making it impossible to absorb any information outside the sounds of coughing, echoing off the walls of Nyquil-numbed nasal passages. While we desire deeply to rejoice in the rich comfort of yesterday (even being able to smell the gravy-laden pot pie would satisfy), we cannot overcome the tasteless, yet still bitter, truth: Being sick sucks.

Here are a few recipes from my winter arsenal.

Fire Cider

click to enlarge Winter Remedies
CP photo by Madalyn Hochendoner
A batch of firecider remedy

It might sound like a flaming cocktail, but fire cider is a fermented tonic, sworn by some to prevent and remedy sickness. It is best taken preventatively, but is known to help speed recovery and regain the senses once one is already ill. This recipe is for a half-gallon.


  • 6 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 inches fresh horseradish, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh turmeric, grated
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 3 medium jalapeños, sliced into rings (other types of hot peppers may be used)
  • 1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 16-24 oz. apple-cider vinegar (depends on container)


Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Pour in enough apple-cider vinegar to cover all ingredients by no less than 2 inches. There should be at least 1 inch of space between lid and liquid. Seal and place in a cool dark place. Store for no less than 1 month, and shake every other day.


Take as a 1-ounce shot, or add 4 ounces of hot water to 1 ounce fire cider, with honey to taste.

Can’t wait? Lili Café in Polish Hill serves fire cider.

Eat an Entire Bag of Oranges


  • A netted bags full of oranges


Peel. Eat all.

Cry Until It’s Spring


Stay inside. Cry until when you look out a window you can’t tell whether it’s raining or your tears have fogged your vision. Look outside; can you see a green haze around your tears? Stop crying, it’s spring.*

*Warning: Sickness may still occur in spring. See other recipes for help.

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