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Two recipes that are staples in our kitchen, especially at this time of year, are kombucha and elderberry syrup. Kombucha is a great source of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and vitamins while elderberry is a traditional remedy to ward off illness.
Combine the two and you get a delicious, fizzy, and immune-boosting “soda” that is delicious and easy to make.
What is Kombucha?
If you’ve never made it or tried it before, kombucha is a traditional fermented tea that contains enzymes, probiotics, and vitamins. Though it is brewed with a sweetened tea, the sugar ferments out in the process of making enzymes and probiotics, leaving a finished product with minimal sugar.
Here is a tutorial on getting started with making kombucha and I ordered all of my supplies from Kombucha Kamp. If you aren’t a fan of the DIY version, pre-made kombucha is now available in most grocery stores and even some big box and discount stores.
Benefits of Elderberry?
Elderberries are a traditional remedy for colds and flu. Elderberry syrups, tinctures, and capsules are popping up even in regular grocery stores.
I prefer to make my own elderberry syrup with dried elderberries so I can make sure I use quality ingredients. Here is my original elderberry syrup recipe.
What to do:
When I combined elderberry syrup and kombucha soda it made a perfectly carbonated and slightly sweet drink that was a great way to get the benefits of elderberry and kombucha in one drink. There are two ways to make elderberry kombucha:
- Simple Version: Use pre-made elderberry syrup and homemade kombucha. The elderberry syrup serves as the sugar source for a second ferment which creates carbonation (see this recipe for instructions on why and how to do a secondary ferment) and all you have to do is pour the elderberry syrup into the kombucha. You can also just add 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup to a glass of pre-carbonated homemade or pre-made kombucha and drink immediately.
- Basic Version: If you don’t already have elderberry syrup on hand, a simpler secondary ferment could be made by simply adding 1 Tablespoon of elderberry juice (made by boiling 1/4 cup dried elderberries in 2 cups water for 45 minutes and adding more water as needed) and 1 teaspoon of raw, organic sugar (it will ferment out) to a 32 ounce mason jar of homemade or store-bought kombucha. Cap this tightly with an airtight lid and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days until desired carbonation is reached and then put in the refrigerator until drinking.
Elderberry Kombucha Soda Recipe
- 32 oz kombucha premade or homemade
- 1 TBSP elderberry syrup (or 1 TBSP dried elderberries + 1 tsp sugar)
- Recipe using elderberry syrup: Combine 1 Tablespoon elderberry syrup with a 32 ounce jar of kombucha. If the kombucha is already carbonated from a secondary ferment, this can be consumed immediately. If not and you want the carbonation, cap the jar tightly with an airtight lid and leave on the counter for 2-3 days before transferring to the refrigerator to store.
- Recipe using dried elderberries: If you don't already have elderberry syrup on hand, a simpler secondary ferment could be made by simply adding 1 Tablespoon of elderberry juice (made by boiling 1/4 cup dried elderberries in 2 cups water for 45 minutes and adding more water as needed) and 1 teaspoon of raw, organic sugar (it will ferment out) to a 32 ounce mason jar of homemade or store-bought kombucha. Cap this tightly with an airtight lid and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days until desired carbonation is reached and then put in the refrigerator until drinking.
- Enjoy 8 ounces per day.
Ever used elderberries or tried kombucha? What did you think?
Discussion (36 Comments)
I have read that kombucha can hurt the enamel on your teeth. Do you have any information regarding this or disclaiming this? One article I read recommended that one rinse their mouth out after drinking the kombucha (using baking soda w water is even more neutralizing) and then also brushing after 30 min. to protect teeth enamel. My kids on the run will probably not do this and I would hate to destroy the enamel on their teeth! However, we love the health benefits of kombucha. Can you please post what you know on this subject. Thank you so much for your blog. I enjoy it very much!
Kombucha is acidic, around a pH of 3, like all fermented foods. If you have soft or damaged enamel then exposing your teeth to acidic conditions will further the porosity and softness of the enamel. Keep in mind soda, kefir, sauerkraut, many fruits and fruit juices are all also significantly acidic and will do the same thing.
Rinsing with water is always a good idea, rinsing with an alkaline rinse (baking soda) will help damaged enamel a little. Don’t brush, brushing is abrasive and will further damage your teeth is done while the enamel is affected by acid.
The correct answer of course is to improve your oral health and specifically improve your tooth/enamel health. How so? Proper brushing and nontoxic toothpaste but most important is adequate consumption of natural A, D, and K vitamins. All three vitamins are essential to allow your body to rebuild and restore tooth/enamel health.
Yum! On my list of things to make!
I kept seeing Kombucha in the stores and had no idea what it was. Thanks for the explanation and great info!
So if you use a juice on the 2nd round, will that get the carbonation?
I make water kefir, mostly because I don’t have the money to start kombucha right now… Anyways whenever I put water kefir in the ridge (even in airtight bottles) it looses it’s fizziness, is there a way to stop that from happening so I can have cold fizzy water kefir?
I am concerned about your comment that brewing kombucha is expensive. I have tried many brewing methods and have found the most successful was also the cheapest.
I bought two bottles of kombucha. I shamelessly searched every bottle on the market shelf and bought the two that had the most “solids” at the bottom of the bottle. I strained the two bottles and used the solid matter as the SCOBY with half the liquids in the bottles and followed Kate’s kombucha recipe. From that original batch now have two batches going and have given away many SCOBYs.
I have read that laws have restricted how kombucha is bottled and labeled. I believe using a quality brand is key. I used GT Enlightened brand. Whatever brand you use, make sure it is: RAW, ORGANIC and UNFLAVORED (aka “Original”)
Yep, that’s what I did to get my own SCOBY. It was so easy that I was laughing about it. Now I have SCOBYs coming out the wazoo! My latest batch is rather light on the fizzy and the secondary ferment seems to be taking awhile. It IS cool here though so I think it just needs more time. Conditions here are not what I’d call ideal but that’s what it is for the time being.
I had read that putting in dried fruits (I’d classify dried elderberries as such) would produce much less flavor in the finished product but this sounds very interesting. I DO have some elderberries somewhere around here……
I don’t know if this applies, but sometimes store bought kombucha is pretty flat. If I let it sit on the counter, open for a couple of hours, the fizz is back. Maybe the strains in your water kefir are a bit “too cold” and like it just a little bit warmer?
This sounds awesome! I’d like to try it but I’m in my third trimester of my pregnancy, is it safe for pregnancy and nursing? Is there any alcohol content in the kombocha since it’s fermented?
If you have been drinking kombucha before this then you will be fine. If you haven’t been eating live foods then start with tiny doses and work you way up, eg like 1/4 cup kombucha for a few days then 1/2 cup, etc.
There may be a little alcohol but you would have to drink gallons of kombucha to have any kind of effect.
I read in one of your post to make a Dr. Pepper kombucha to use prunes and vanilla. Do you the juice or the fruit and cut up? I am also having issues on my kombucha carbonating. I have changed jars for a tighter fit, and went back to using a 3/4 c sugar. Any other recommendation?
I LOVE kombucha. I drink a store-bought one, trying to keep it the a reasonable 1/2 bottle or less a day. This is such a great idea to mix in elderberry!
I’ve been trying to find information about the safety of drinking kombucha while pregnant (I’m early in my first trimester), and there are such conflicting opinions online. What is yours?
Live foods are fine to eat during pregnancy if you were consuming them regularly beforehand. If you have never had live foods and are currently pregnant, start very slow as the addition of probiotics to your system may cause detox symptoms (toxin release from your gut) and developing babies don’t need any more toxin exposure than they get in the modern world. P.S. Those toxins I mentioned are not from the live foods but from your gut’s biofilm.
Just what I needed! I’ve been making Continuous brew kombucha for 3 batches and I can’t get it to fizz on the 2nd fermentation. I’ve been using dried elderberries but didn’t add the sugar. Can’t wait to try this one. Thanks!!
I JUST SAW ON YOU TUBE THAT IF YOU HAVE CANDIDA KOMBUCHA IS ONE OF THE WORST THINGS TO TAKE UNTIL AFTER THE CANDIDA HAS BEEN DEALTH WITH, THEN IT’S FINE.
Candida is an overgrowth of an organism that normally lives in the gut. When it gets out of balance, the principle of isopathy or “like controls like” applies. In this case, the yeast in Kombucha hold the yeast from Candida in check. How? There are a few mechanisms at play in this process.
There are many types of yeast and bacteria. We often hear of pathogenic bacteria or yeast – the kind that are harmful to human organisms. However, not all bacteria and yeast have negative effects on our organism but rather exert a positive one. Kombucha is but one example of a healthy bacteria & yeast rich fermented food. The yeast in Kombucha reproduce in a different way that the yeast of Candida; by fission rather than sporing. These similar but different organisms compete with each other to create an environment that best suits their needs. If the Candida are in control, the body craves sugar – Candida’s primary nutrient source. If the Kombucha yeast are in control, it is more acidic which breaks down the gluey biofilm the Candida create to line the gut.
Kombucha is an acidic food with an average pH of 3.2-2.5. Although it is acidic, it alkalizes in the digestive tract like citrus and vinegar. The healthy organic acids formed by the Kombucha fermentation process also have specific anti Candida properties. For example, phenethyl alcohol and octanoic acid (caprylic acid) are both natural Candida antibiotics. Kombucha also produces benzoic acid which is anti fungal. While these acids may not be present in large quantities in Kombucha, they are bioavailable which is to say, they are present in a living form that the body has evolved to utilize instantly.
There have been no definitive studies on this issue and there is a lot of confusion over how to control yeast, what is and is not an actual candida infection versus other yeast issues, etc. We do understand that like controls like, and so the introduction of other healthy yeasts to the gut seems like a logical place to start controlling such as issue to us, but we are not medical professionals.
However, there are people who claim Kombucha has healed their candida issues, one such person is Len Porzio, and here is his story: https://www.kombuchakamp.com/5-questions-with-len-porzio-kombucha-legend
I don’t know where you got your information about not using Kombucha while in the grips of a Candida infections, but
from personal use you are mistaken. I just got out of the hospital after 22 days on prednisone given to me to control my asthma. I was also given a high doses of an antibiotic to fight a lung infection. I always need to double up or increase my plain yogurt intake and Kombucha to fight the side effects that the steroid use Ir is Kombucha alone that replaces the bad bacteria in my gut with good bacteria.
Forgive me if this sounds naive, but I thought you might be interested in trying mullein for your asthma (if you haven’t already). Taken as an infusion with the dried leaf, it is said to greatly relieve (if not cure) many asthma problems after a few months of daily use. Although it is just “a common weed,” mullein is one of the world’s best lung allies – the amish even smoke the leaves to stop an asthma attack!
Nancy Russell Why are you yelling? If you have a difference of opinion, that’s fine but you should voice it civilly. If not? Get your own blog!
@Ruth… many times people with poor eyesight use all caps to make it easier for them to see what they are typing. I’m not sure if that is the case for Nancy but just something to consider. All caps used to be considered “rude” but with all the new info on why people use caps, the benefit of the doubt is now considered more important than criticizing someone who could have a disability. Her post didn’t seem contentious or rude, just expressing a concern.