Beet kvass is thought to have originated in the Ukraine a long time ago. It’s a probiotic drink that is chock full of health-giving properties and is made using the humble beetroot.
It’s been a while since I last made beet kvass. Every few months, I get the urge to make some and this month of May was one of them. It must be my body telling me I’m in need of something therapeutic.
What is Beet Kvass?
CT is responsible for introducing me to beet kvass, along with most of the other fermented food and drink I’ve eaten over the last twenty years or so. I really ought to be a lot healthier than I am, but alas, I do love my carbs. I have a useful post on kefir, what it is, how to make it and what to do with it, but for some reason posts on fermented foods seem to be somewhat lacking.
Kvass is a russian probiotic drink that is traditionally made with stale rye bread. It’s said to taste a little like beer, despite being non-alcoholic. I’ve not yet tried to make it, but I really should. Beet kvass, on the other hand, is probably from the Ukraine, where traditional homes would always have a bottle to hand. It’s a simple tonic which you make by lacto-fermenting beetroots.
Beetroot is, despite its humble associations, a fantastic source of all sorts of nutrients. There’s no need to go searching the Amazon for superfoods, because there’s one growing in a garden near you right now.
Fermenting it just makes those properties even more vibrant and accessible. When beetroot mixes with salt, it converts the sugars and starches into lactic acid and preserves the beet kvass in so doing. The finished drink acts as a digestive aid and is attributed with all sorts of health claims including, boosting the immune system and cleansing the blood and liver.
Beet kvass works at its best taken regularly in small doses, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. A small glassful (50 to 80 ml) is about right, though if you like it, more is absolutely fine. It’s probably one of the cheapest health tonics you can get.
Is Beet Kvass Alcoholic?
Lacto fermented drinks often contain small amounts of alcohol and beet kvass is no exception. The fermentation process breaks down the sugars in the beetroot and produces both alcohol and carbon dioxide. The longer you ferment your beets, the higher the alcohol content will be. But the amount is still negligible and shouldn’t be a cause of concern to most people.
Making Beet Kvass
Beet kvass is incredibly easy to make. It’s just a question of scrubbing and cutting up some beetroot, adding water and salt, then leaving it to ferment for several days. It usually takes about a week for me. Take the lid off the jar every couple of days to allow any carbon dioxide to escape. You do not want exploding jars. Then reseal.
If you have some whey or sauerkraut juice available it speeds up the process, but it’s not necessary. I usually add a little whey to get things going, but I’ve not strained any yoghurt or kefir recently, so in the photos you can see here, I didn’t have any to hand. It was fine without.
When the beet kvass is ready, just strain the lot through a fine sieve, bottle and keep in the fridge until needed. It should last for several months. I usually repeat the process, using the same beetroot pieces again. This second fermentation is generally not quite as powerful as the first, but it’s not far off. Don’t use them more than twice though.
It’s possible that a little scum might form on the top. As long as it’s not mould, it’s fine to scoop that off before decanting the kvass into bottles. It’s always a good idea to sterilise any glass bottles or jars you’re going to use for long term storage.
You can eat the leftover lacto-fermented beets as they are, turn them into soup or smoothies or incorporate them into any number of recipes where you’d normally use beetroot.
It’s important that you use filtered water to make beet kvass. Tap water may contain various additives, such as chlorine, which are likely to inhibit the fermentation process. I use a Brita water filter.
When is Beet Kvass Done?
Beet Kvass is ready to drink when it’s gone a deep purple colour and you can see bubbles rising up. The time it takes will vary, depending on the beets and the temperature of your room. This could take anywhere between three days and a week.
Beet kvass has a savoury, almost umami taste to it, with a slight sour tang, which makes it almost delicious. It’s also slightly fizzy. The initial saltiness is reduced by the fermentation process, as is some of the earthiness that a few people find hard to tolerate.
Even beetroot hating CT likes to have a daily dose when I’ve made a batch. I’d be hard pushed, however, to say he drank it with relish. I, on the other hand, positively look forward to drinking my dose of medicine.
If the beet kvass smells off, then discard it. Likewise, if you see any sign of mould forming either at the top of the jar or on the beets, discard. Moulds can be dangerous.
Other Beetroot Recipes You Might Like
- Baked beetroot with local honey and thyme via Farmersgirl Kitchen
- Roasted beetroot galette via Tin and Thyme
- Beetroot & blackberry salad with tahini dressing via Veggie Desserts
- Beetroot chocolate cake via Tin and Thyme
- Red beet, carrot & lentil coriander pasta via Nuts and Walnuts
- Beetroot hummus via Recipes Made Easy
- Vegetarian borscht with beet leaves via Chez Maximka
- Beetroot juice with orange and ginger via Tin and Thyme
- Beetroot & lentil vegan pie via Only Crumbs Remain
- Vegan beetroot brownie cake (gluten free) via Gluterama
- Beetroot, walnut, wild garlic & goat’s cheese brunch muffins via Tin and Thyme
- Best beetroot chutney via Tin and Thyme
- Chocolate beetroot cupcakes via Elizabeth’s Kitchen Pantry
- Beetroot brownies via My Boys Club
- Beetroot miso soup via Tin and Thyme
- Instant pot ginger spiced beetroot soup via Jo’s Kitchen Larder
- Spiced pickled beetroot via Tin and Thyme
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you try this recipe for beet kvass, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more recipes for fermented foods, follow the link and you’ll find I have a few of them. All delicious, of course.
Beet Kvass. PIN IT.
Beet Kvass – The Recipe
- 3 medium sized beetroots – scrubbed well organic is best if you can find them
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- filtered water
- Chop the beetroot into rough chunks and place in the bottom of a sealable 1 litre glass jar.
- Sprinkle over the salt and top the jar up with water, leaving a 2 cm gap at the top. Stir well.
- Seal the jar and leave on the counter for up to a week. Take the lid off the jar every couple of days to allow any carbon dioxide to escape. You do not want exploding jars. Then reseal. Time will vary according to temperature. When the kvass has taken on a deep purple colour and you start to see bubbles forming, it's ready. Although personal taste preferences will also have an influence.
- Pour the mixture through a fine sieve. Bottle and seal. Keep in the fridge until needed. It should last several weeks.
I’m sharing this beet kvass recipe with #CookBlogShare, hosted this week over at Hijacked By Twins.