How to Make Homemade Elderberry Kombucha (Two Different Ways)
Technically, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not allowed to make claims like this one: the healing power of elderberries coupled with the gut healing power of kombucha serves as an elixir of immune boosting goodness which makes it a perfect drink for the winter.
That’s technically speaking, if you catch my drift.
But, there might be good reason to believe it.
If you walk the aisles of your natural health store, you’ll notice many natural remedies made with elderberries. You may even notice the crunchy part of the web-sphere is all of a sudden filled with elderberry concoctions.
These small little berries are packed full of vitamin C, as well as being high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. All three things essential to keep your immune system going strong, even through those tough winter months where everyone around you is hacking up a storm.
And kombucha? Well, remember how I walked you through how to make kombucha at home last week? I wasn’t technically allowed to mention claims about the healing properties of kombucha, but some words were nonchalantly thrown out there.
So when you casually add both the elderberries and kombucha components together, well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it might just be a good thing to be consuming during the inevitable flu season.
To be honest, I’ve had a bag of dried elderberries sitting in my pantry that I bought last year. I was going to make elderberry syrup and then make elderberry gummies but, I got lazy. I wasn’t sure Andrew would eat the gummies anyway because he’s a little fickle when it comes to textures and things he normally doesn’t eat. I may try making the gummies in dinosaur molds this season and that may spark his interest.
Nevertheless, this year I wanted to be ready for flu season, in the most natural way. Since I know we drink a lot of kombucha in our household, an idea sparked. Why not infuse homemade kombucha with elderberries!!?? I headed over to Pinterest to find inspiration for elderberries but since I had no idea what it tasted like, I was kind of searching in the dark.
After searching and thinking logically of what could be an immune booster, I came up with the conclusion of:
- dried elderberries
- dried lavender
- fresh ginger
Talk about immune boosting, huh!?
Now, I know if you’re not a “floral” person, you might think the lavender flowers infuse a strong floral taste to the kombucha but I am very happy to say that the flavor is really pleasant. Scott came home from work with a head cold (funny how the timing works) and I shoved (lovingly) a glass of lavender kombucha in his face and he was pleasantly surprised as well.
BUT, if you still aren’t convinced about the floral taste, I have something else for you: an incredibly simple and delicious elderberry kombucha using only one ingredient, elderberry.
Yep, the humble little elderberry creates an amazingly tasty flavor, with no need to doctor it with any other ingredients. It’s not overwhelming either, and the elderberries do an amazing job of creating lots of fizz. A bonus, for sure.
It’s like a healthy, immune building soda!
See, I told you it was perfect for the winter time.
Making this homemade elderberry kombucha is really, really simple too. Once you’ve gone through the first round of fermentation (learn how to brew kombucha here), you’ll want to grab three bottles that create a good seal. The good seal along with the amount of ingredients (aka flavor aka sugar) you use, will ensure a fizzy drink.
Basicaly, you add your ingredients, pour the brewed kombucha in, close the seal, and wait. The second ferment can last anywhere from three to five days — depending on how impatient you are. No one told me before, but you’ll want to “burp” the bottles twice a day by just opening the bottle top and closing it. This lets off the excess pressure which is a good thing. Otherwise, when you open the bottle after the third day you’ll lose half of the bottle because of how much carbonation is in there.
So there you have it. Two uncomplicated ways to make an immune boosting elixir that the whole family loves, using the most simplest and delicious ingredients.
What are you waiting for?? Grab yourself a few bottles and get to elixir making. 🙂
P.s. If you’re new to drinking kombucha, I encourage you to start slow. Sip on a glass throughout the day because sometimes too much at one time can make the belly a little uncomfortable.
- 2 flip top bottles (these flip top bottles are the ones I use)
- Funnel, optional but helpful
- 1 Tbl dried elderberries (I got my elderberries from here. If out of stock, my next choice would be these elderberries)
- Brewed kombucha (learn how to make kombucha here)
- 1 Tbl dried elderberries (this these or these)
- 1 tsp dried lavender flowers (organic like these if possible)
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- ½ Tbl honey (raw, unfiltered, and local or this brand)
- Brewed kombucha
- Place desired ingredients (whichever flavor you choose) into a flip top bottle
- Pour homemade kombucha into the bottle (a funnel works nicely for this); leaving about an inch from the top
- Place on your counter and let sit anywhere from 3-5 days
- Burp once or twice a day to help release pressure
- Once the second ferment is over, place bottles in refrigerator and drink as often as needed
Oh my goodness, do I ever love the sound of this! One question, though- since raw honey is a natural antibacterial, wouldn’t it be killing the good bacteria in the kombucha? Please advise. 🙂
Hey Faith. You know, that’s an extremely good question and I do not know the answer to that. If you wanted to err on the side of caution, you could leave out the honey and I’m sure it would still be good.
Sounds so good! Can I use elderberry powder instead of the whole berry?
I’m really not sure. I would imagine you’d want something more “solid.”
elderberries cost a fortune and you will never find them fresh in a produce section because they are very perishable. Luckily you can get all the free elderberries you want if you take the time to do some research on your local area and go on a little nature walk. Not sure where you live but they grow in most places in the US and Europe. The tree is easy to identify so just study and you shouldn’t be scared. Hint: they grow next to water, like streams and rivers. I did this and I found a park near me with tons of blue elderberry trees and now my fridge is full of bags of berries.
What I did was buy in bulk and split the cost of dry elderberries with other friends. It ended up making the elderberries very affordable although foraging for fresh berries would be super cool.
I am very excited to find this recipe. I have someone who is going to give me a scoby as soon as hers is ready to split. I now have a good (Ontario winter-cold and flu season) recipe to start off with. Very excited!
Yay! that’s awesome. Good luck on your kombucha brewing adventures. Let me know if you have any other questions!
It is early summer here in Australia & the elderberries are ripening on the many trees that can be found on verges & fields. I plan to harvest some to dry for winter but will use some fresh in kombucha to make this elixir. Thanks. when the rosehips are ready I plan to include some of them with the elderberries.
I have been flavoring my kombucha for a couple of years now with Elderberry Syrup that I get on Amazon (Nature’s Way Sambucus). I tried other flavors but I LOVE how the syrup flavors it and I honestly can’t remember when I’ve had a cold last or even been sick, for that matter.
I will be trying this recipe today! Thank you!
Quick question: Do you strain the kombucha after the 3-5 days of fermentation (before storing it in the fridge)? And what’s the fridge-life of something like this? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!!
I just made homemade elderberry syrup and used that for 2F on water kefir. So good.
I was wondering if the ginger taste is really strong?
No it’s not. 🙂
I am very new to brewing Kombucha and am just finishing making my first gallon of plain Kombucha. I want to do a second ferment, and I keep seeing lots of recipes that require “burping” to avoid bottle explosions. I’m nervous that if I do a second ferment and forget to burp the bottles that I’ll have a dangerous mess. However, because brewing plain kombucha can be done with just a coffee filter over top, couldn’t you do that with the second ferment? Will it mess up the brew?
part of the reason for the second ferment is to build up carbonation so you have a nice fizzy drink, but if you need to let it sit longer for the flavours to develop, you will have to burp it every once in a while. I’ve found with mine, usually 3 days gives a good amount of carbonation, and no dangerous explosions. but you need to have the proper bottles that can hold pressure. If you don’t want a fizzy drink you can let it second ferment with only a coffee filter covering it
I have done my second fermentation for up to 7 days without burping the bottles with no problem. I use the air tight flip top bottles and old store bought kombucha bottles. When I first started making kombucha, I used to lose 1/2 my brew daily by burping daily. However, if at the end of your 2nd fermentation you put the bottles into the fridge and allow to chill, the yeast will settle down and you can open with no problem.
I was under the impression that it was necessary to boil elderberries before consuming them… why is it okay to skip this step? Is it because we aren’t ingesting the actual berry?
elderberries are actually toxic unless cooked as they contain a poison. So before uisng in a recipe like this they should be cooked.
“The elderberry plant can contain a cyanogenic glycoside sambunigrin which must be deactivated by heat prior to ingesting medicinally to avoid adverse effects. (A cyanogenic glycoside contains a cyanide group attached to a sugar. When digested, it is released, and can harm the body.) The berries also contain an alkaloid, sambucine, which causes nausea and vomiting. So why do we ingest elderberries? Because these components are easily deactivated through heat, which enables us to produce a finished product that does not contain any of the dangerous types of alkaloids or glycosides.
This also means that the berries should not be used in a tincture, glycerite, or other uncooked preparation. It is ideally suited for use in a syrup or gummy. Commercially prepared brands of syrup which have not been cooked sufficiently to eliminate the toxic components will cause nausea and vomiting, and could lead to more serious effects.”
elderberries must be cooked for at least a half hour to 45 minutes at a strong simmer. made a syrup out of the elderberries – 1/2 cup elderberries, 2 cups water, bring to a boil then simmer to half the liquid being reduced. i add sugar to this, 1/2 cup to strained elderberry liquid for use in the second ferment, after all the sugar is dissolved and topping it off to make one cup. play with the amount of syrup used to flavor and get desired carbonation- don’t forget to burp and keep an eye on the bottles. be safe, fact check medicinal components.
I have done my second fermentation for up to 7 days without burping the bottles with no problem. I use the air tight flip top bottles and old store bought kombucha bottles. When I first started making kombucha, I used to lose half my brew by burping daily. However, if at the end of your 2nd fermentation you put the bottles into the fridge and allow to chill, the yeast will settle down and you can open with no problem.
Shouldn’t we be using cooked elderberries, to get rid of the cyanide?
Hi Loriel. I am a lot like you and like to stay healthy by eating/drinking more naturally. I have been making kombucha for many years now and have many successes as well as “distresses” with my kombucha. I just came across your website while researching second fermenting with elderberries. I have a quick question for you….do you add the elderberries whole in your batch? I’m asking because in the searching I’ve come across everyone who says the berries are toxic and have to be boiled to remove the poison. Can you clarify this for me..thank you.