Beet Kvass

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Beverages, Digestion, Ferments & Preserves

Beet Kvass

When I first heard about a drink made out of soaked beets, I just couldn’t wrap my taste buds around the whole concept. When offered a glass, I puckered up like I was about to sip poison, but I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted earthy, a bit salty, a hint of sour, yet a titch of sweetness and a light effervescence that I wasn’t  expecting. I liked it!

The history behind kvass is that the Ukrainians and Russians have been drinking it for over a thousand years – czars and peasants alike. An electrolyte drink, this lacto-fermented beverage could be called the traditional, real-food version of Gatorade since it provides a great hydrating balance.

Here’s what Sally Fallon says in Nourishing Traditions about beet kvass:

“This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

 

Brewing my first jar of lacto-fermented beet kvass was a “Traditional Foods Recipe” assignment  during my Nutritional Therapy program. I was sure I was going to do something wrong and poison myself with spoiled brew or give my husband a food-borne illness when I made him sip some. . . Ah, how naive I was. It is so easy  to make and as you learn more about fermenting foods, you’ll gain confidence, too. I always have at least a half-gallon jar of kvass stored in the fridge and one brewing every other week.

Kvass is definitely an acquired taste as are most fermented foods. At first, fermented foods may seem only tolerable, but as your taste buds get accustom to the flavors , your body starts to crave it. Your body knows what it needs. Link over to a previous post to learn more about the health benefits of beets.

It doesn’t matter which color of beets you use  – red, golden or Chioggias (red and white striped bulls-eyed heirloom variety) –  beets to brew your kvass. Red beets make a blood-red elixir, golden beets a yellow-orange tonic, while Chioggia beets brew a pretty-in-pink-lemonade colored tonic.

Enjoy your kvass chilled, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, mixed half-and-half with lemonade, added to mineral water, as a liquid base in smoothies, and in cocktails. I use kvass to make salad dressings, in soups or wherever else you would use vinegar.


Recipe: Beet Kvass

Summary A probiotic beverage which supports the intestinal ecosystem since it is packed with beneficial micro-organisms. Drink 4 ounces, morning and night, as a tonic to support good health.

Ingredients

  • 1 half-gallon mason jar with lid
  • 3-4 Small or 2-3 medium sized red beets
  • 1/4 cup of whey (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp sea salt
  • filtered water

Instructions

  1. Wash beets to remove dirt and hairs. Remove cut or bruised spots.
  2. Quarter beets, leaving about 1 ½ inches of stem if available.
  3. Put beets in bottom of 2-quart jar. Add whey and 1 tablespoons of salt (or 2 tbsp if not using whey).
  4. Fill the jar with filtered water leaving an inch of space.
  5. Leave jar out in a warm spot (usually on the kitchen counter) loosely covered with its lid or a tea towel for 3-7 days. (If a bit of scum forms on top, just scoop off with a spoon.)

Notes

How do you know when it’s ready? If it tastes too salty, let it sit another day. If your house is hot, let it ferment only one day and then taste it. It may only need one day. If it is not tart, let it ferment longer. It becomes an art to know when it is ready. Vary the amount of salt to your taste after your first batch. You can water it down if too salty.

Drain liquid out of your jar into another clean jar for storage in the refrigerator for 2-6 months. You can reuse the beets for another batch of kvass by just adding more whey, salt and water to the drained jar. The second batch will be a bit weaker.

 

Ready for More Fermentation?

The process of fermentation adds enzymes which make foods more digestible and more nutritious, aid in digestion, and protect us against disease. To learn more about his artisanal  process of food preparation, a great book to get you started is Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

 

Photo by Great Road Farm