Honey Fermented Elderberries

October 2, 2019 (Last Updated: October 3, 2019)

With cold and flu season upon us, it’s time to start stalking your apothecary. Honey fermented elderberries is a powerful immune-boosting food. Everyone should have them in their medicine cabinet to reach for when they feel the sniffles coming on. The best part, your kids won’t object to eating it, it’s delicious!

The Medicinal Properties of Elderberries

Elderberries are often used to make delicious jams and jellies. Not everyone is aware of their powerful effectiveness against influenza, infections, pain, constipation, and more. Elderberries are abundant in useful nutrients such as Vitamin C, Phenolic Acid, Quercetin, Anthocyanins, and many others.

When you ferment elderberries with something equally as healing, raw honey, the results are an amazing, living food. Fermenting food in honey is a great way to go. The acidity and low water content of the honey make it the perfect natural preservative.

How to Find Elderberries

The best way to get ahold of these special berries is to get outdoors and find some, but it may take a little time treading through the brush, weeds, and tall grass to do so. It’s a good idea to wear some long pants and good shoes.

The Elder (Sambucus) is native to Central Europe and North America and grows wild in zones 3-8. If you live in the United States, you can easily find out which plant hardiness zone you live in here.

The American Elder or Common Elder (Sambucus Canadensis) and the European Elder (Sambucus Nigra) are the most common. You can find them in meadows, near streams, and even in roadside ditches.

Elderberries ripen in late summer-early fall. When they are ripe they will become plump, hang upside down, and the juices will be purple. I have had one heck of a time finding ripe ones around here because the birds always seem to get to them first. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who snagged me some from her mother’s back yard.

Caution: Black elderberries and blue elderberries can both be used for this recipe. Steer clear of red elderberries, they are toxic and should not be consumed. The stems and leaves of the black and blue elderberries should also not be consumed.

To remove the elderberries from the stems, use the tines of a fork to strip them off into a bowl.

If you cannot get ahold of any fresh elderberries, dried ones will also do the trick. You can find them in some health food stores or order them online.

black elderberries
Black Elderberries
blue elderberries
Blue Elderberries

Tips for Making Honey Fermented Elderberries

  • Use raw unfiltered honey, pasteurized honey does not contain any beneficial microbes.
  • Flip your jar or stir occasionally to coat the elderberries in the honey. This will prevent mold and other unwelcome growths from forming.
  • Open your jar to burp it and release air often in the beginning! Gasses from fermentation build rapidly. This will slow down and stop after a week or two.
  • If you use dried elderberries, be sure to rehydrate them first.
  • You can eat the elderberry honey after about two weeks, but the longer you allow it to ferment, the better.

Ways to Eat Honey Fermented Elderberries

  • By the spoonful
  • On toast or a muffin
  • As a topping for oatmeal or yogurt
  • Mixed into a drink with seltzer water

Honey fermented elderberries are one of the simplest ferments you can do, and you’ll be highly equipped for cold and flu season. Another honey ferment that many, including myself, are raving about is Honey Fermented Garlic. Get your medicine cabinet stocked up TODAY with both of these!

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honey fermented elderberries

Honey Fermented Elderberries

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By Curie Ganio
Prep Time: 5 Min

Honey Fermented Elderberries are a delicious cold and flu remedy that will give you an excellent immune system boost.


  • 1 C Elderberries
  • 1 1/2 C Raw Unfiltered Honey



Place your elderberries in a quart jar and pour the honey over them.


Place an airtight lid on top of the jar and allow to ferment at room temperature out of direct sunlight for at least 14 days.


Flip the jar or gently stir every day or two to coat the elderberries with honey. (This will prevent mold growth)


The first week, the elderberries will create a lot of gas, so be sure to burp the jar at least once per day. This should subside after about a week.


Eat a spoonful a few times per day when you feel a cold or other illness taking hold, or as a preventative measure.


Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to a year and stir occasionally.


If you cannot get ahold of fresh elderberries, dried ones can be used as well. They will need to be rehydrated first though.

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  • Reply
    May 21, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I have to try this! I always make elderberry syrup and feel bad throwing out the elderberries! Do you think it still has beneficial properties After being steeped in boiling water for 45min???

    • Reply
      Curie Ganio
      May 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      Hi there! Yes, I hate throwing them out too, they are like gold! I think 45 minutes is far too long, after just 10 minutes of heat, the elderberries lose about 10% of their amazing nutrients. There is controversy about the lectins found in elderberries causing stomach issues, but only in large amounts and in people who are sensitive to lectins. Fermentation has also been found to reduce natural toxins. I wouldn’t cook them unless you find that they bother your stomach.

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