This Dominican Herbalist's Fire Cider Will Strengthen Your Immune System

Manolo Salas
Manolo Salas

Afro-Dominican herbalist Suhaly Bautista-Carolina likes to make a fire cider in advance of seasonal changes, when our immune systems are likely to be compromised. This medicinal tonic's herbs and vegetables have a full moon cycle (27.5 days on average) to stew in apple cider vinegar. Sipping on some of this remedy is great to brighten your mood and boost your immune system all winter long.

"I recommend 1-2 tbsps daily when you're feeling healthy and using this tonic to build immunity. When I'm feeling sick, I double the dosage. It can be taken straight or mixed into juices," Bautista-Carolina tells POPSUGAR. "Every season, we experience a new fire cider recipe in my home, but it's always sweeter than any other I've tried, because we love sweet medicine in my household. Fire cider is very intuitive, and everyone will have a different version in the end."

Bautista-Carolina believes her journey into plant work has revealed a collective hunger for the ancestral healing more people are seeking. She began formally studying plant medicine eight years ago as an alternative to the seizure medications with "a laundry list of side effects" that Western doctors prescribed for her wife's migraines. In 2018, after the birth of her daughter Luna, she began making and sharing her own herbal medicines under Moon Mother Apothecary.

"I usually make a few big batches, one for my family and loved ones, and another for the online shop at Moon Mother Apothecary. It's also the perfect plant medicine for the creative kitchen witch, since there's not just one way to make it," Bautista-Carolina said. "I start with an old recipe, figure out what we are needing more of, and make the appropriate additions from there."

Ingredients like pungent peppers, garlic, ginger, horseradish and onion fill your body with antioxidants, clear your airways, and improve your digestion. Suhaly grew up with her AfroKisqueyan mother, who often left bubbling pots of food and plant medicines on the stove in their Brooklyn home. She feels the universe has brought her full circle to her starting point as someone returning to the ancestral wisdom that so many people are cut from in the history of migration. Today, she is proud to contribute her medicine and knowledge to new generations.

"As a child, I am told I gravitated naturally to the elements. I loved the beach, was fascinated by the sky, and I could appreciate every living thing in the bustling city around me. I could extract the natural world from the noise. I watch the ways my daughter does this now," Bautista-Carolina said. "I've been on this journey ever since, learning and growing, sharing and receiving, dreaming, and deepening my practice alongside my community, my family, and brilliant, visionary collaborators and friends."

Fire Cider

Image Source: Suhaly Bautista-Carolina

Fire Cider

Prep Time15 minutes
Yield6 cups (may vary slightly)

Suhaly Carolina-Bautista


    • 1 large organic onion, chopped
    • 2 heads organic garlic, crushed
    • 1 organic lemon, juice and pulp
    • 1 organic orange, juice and pulp
    • 5 star anise
    • 5 dried bay leaves
    • 5 tbsp elderberry syrup (optional)
    • 1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root (or 4 tbsps organic ginger root powder)
    • 1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root (or 2 tbsp organic horseradish powder)
    • 1 tablespoon organic turmeric powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon organic cayenne powder
    • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
    • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • Organic apple cider vinegar (enough to fill the jar)
    • 1/2 cup of raw, local honey (add more depending on taste)
    • 5 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
    • 4 fresh organic thyme sprigs (or 1 tbsp dried thyme)
    • *some recipes call for (2) jalapeño or habañero peppers*


    1. Chop, grate, and crush the onion, garlic, ginger, and horseradish. Pour these ingredients and all others into a large glass jar. I recommend using a 6-cup/3-pint glass mason jar.

    2. Pour the organic apple cider vinegar into the jar until all of the ingredients are covered and the vinegar reaches 1" from the jar's top.

    3. Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the lid. Shake with intention.

    4. Store the jar in a dark, cool place for a month/one moon cycle. Shake daily.

    5. After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the liquid into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid goodness as you can from the pulp while straining.

    6. Taste your cider and add more honey until you reach the desired sweetness.


    Recommended dosage: 1-2 tbsps daily when you’re feeling healthy to build immunity. When you're feeling sick, double the dosage. It can be taken straight or mixed into juices.