July 10, 2019

This cold and flu season, boost your immune system with a berry that's fairly unknown in Australia. Echinacea and Olive Leaf Extract are commonly used natural remedies in Australia, but have you tried elderberries?

Elderberries have been used for hundreds of years, in Europe and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu, and to keep away the winter blues.

What are Elderberries?

Elderberry plants (genus Sambucus) are small, deciduous trees that are common in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Africa, the US and parts of Asia.

The tree produces white flowers, that are known as elderflowers, and rich, dark coloured berries called elderberries. The berries have a sharp, sweet taste, and contain a high amount of antioxidants and Vitamins A, C and B6.  

How to Use Elderberries

Dried elderberries are used in syrups, jams, jellies, teas, gin making and wine. 

In this article, you'll learn three ways that you can use elderberries to make delicious tonics. This includes:

  • Kombucha.
  • Water Kefir.
  • Syrup.

Kombucha Recipe

To make elderberry kombucha, you'll need a batch of freshly brewed kombucha. You can find a recipe for basic kombucha here

If you're new to second fermentation brewing, then this is a great place to start. It will show you how to second ferment kombucha and it has ideas for the types of ingredients that you can use.

In this recipe, you'll learn how to make a simple elderberry kombucha. As you get more experimental with your flavours, you can mix these berries with hibiscus, orange blossom, acai or ginger. 

Ingredients 
  • Two cups of freshly brewed kombucha.
  • 4 teaspoons of dried elderberries. 
  • Raw sugar to taste.
Method
  • Add dried elderberries, sugar (to taste) and brewed kombucha to a second fermentation bottle, such as a Grolsch flip-top bottle or other pressure rated bottle.
  • Tighten cap or flip top lid and shake gently.
  • Leave to ferment, in a cool and dry position (out of direct sunlight) for 2-4 days. 
  • 'Burp' your bottle daily to ensure that the carbonation does not lead to a glass explosion. Take care when opening your bottle. The safest method of opening the bottle is to put it in a large container or kitchen sink, cover with a tea towel and position the bottle away from your face and body. Open the bottle slowly, allowing the gases to be slowly released. You don't want a champagne like 'POP!!'
  • Your fermented elderberry kombucha is ready when it has sufficient carbonation. During warmer weather, the fermentation process will be speedier.
  • Strain and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

 Water Kefir Recipe

The process for making elderberry water kefir and kombucha are similar. To begin, you'll need a batch of freshly brewed water kefir. You can learn how to make water kefir, including a step-by-step guide to second fermentation, by visiting our Learning Hub.

Ingredients 
  • 3-4 cups of freshly brewed water kefir
  • 1/4 cup of dried elderberries. 
  • Raw sugar to taste. 
Method
  • Add dried elderberries, sugar (to taste) and brewed water kefir to a second fermentation bottle, such as a Grolsch flip-top bottle or other pressure rated bottle.
  • Tighten cap or flip top lid and shake gently.
  • Leave to ferment, in a cool, dry position, for 2-4 days. 
  • 'Burp' your bottle daily to release excess gas/carbonation build-up.
  • Your fermented elderberry kefir is ready when it has sufficient carbonation. During warmer weather, the fermentation process will be speedier.
  • Strain and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
 Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a popular natural cold and flu remedy that you can keep on hand during the winter months. This tonic is usually made with honey, but you can make a vegan version using maple syrup. The honey-like syrup gives it sweetness and helps to preserve the tonic - while making it a soothing drink. 

Ingredients
  • Three cups of water.
  • Three tbsp dried elderberries.
  • 3/4 cup of maple syrup.
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1 tsp dried ginger.
  • 1 tsp dried cloves or 4-5 fresh cloves.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Method
  • Add dried elderberries, water, ginger, cloves and cinnamon to a pot of water. Bring to boil, then simmer until the ingredients have dissolved. 
  • Leave simmering until the water is reduced to half.
  • Leave mixture to cool. Once at room temperature, strain the mixture through a good quality piece of cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a glass jar.
  • Stir in the maple syrup.
  • Secure the lid and store in the fridge for up to one month.
  • Most people consume 1-2 tablespoons every few days.

These simple recipes are a great way to feel good during the winter months. This article is designed as general information, and does not replace professional medical advice. As with any natural remedy, please seek medical advice for dosage and correct usage, to suit your individual needs. 


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