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Sang Lee Farms’ fire cider, made from produce grown on site, can give your immune system the boost it needs. (Credit: David Benthal)

Knowing what you’re putting in your body is more important than ever. As we continue to adapt and adjust our lifestyles and health protocols, every healthy decision — like choosing what foods to consume — makes a difference.

While it’s important to consult a medical professional if you’re not feeling well, there are ways we can boost our immunity and health on a daily basis using all-natural, organic ingredients grown here on the North Fork. Sang Lee Farms’ cider tonic, sourced from the sustainable farm’s produce, can help you build immunity and generally feel better.

The concept of cider tonic, or fire cider, was popularized by Californian herbalist Rosemary Gladstar as an immune-boosting remedy and has become popular in recent years. 

“We’re pretty up on wellness trends,” said Sang Lee’s Lucy Senesac, who started developing the tonic at the farm four years ago. “We had basically everything that goes into it, so it made sense [to make a tonic].” 

The drink uses ingredients entirely from the certified organic farm and contains an apple cider vinegar base with fresh onions, garlic, hot pepper, horseradish, ginger and raw honey. It’s fermented and steeped for about a month. 

“It requires some forethought, but we have most of the ingredients year-round,” Senesac said.

“Each ingredient has its own use,” said Kayla Barthelme, a certified herbalist who works in the fields and teaches workshops at the farm. The hotter ingredients will stimulate the blood and warm up the body, while some of the foods in the tonic, like the ginger, make it more palatable. The garlic, meanwhile, can help with a scratchy throat.

The other important addition to the tonic is raw honey, which is both for taste and health benefits. Honey has anti-microbials and stimulates the immune system. Small doses of honey from local bees can help your body adapt to local allergens, Barthelme said. 

A spoonful of tonic can be taken by itself or diluted with water if you find it too strong on its own, Senesac said.

Sang Lee Farms’ cider tonic is made in small batches, so make sure to call ahead to see if there are bottles in stock.