Beet Kvass – An Unbeetable Traditional Ukranian Health Drink
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. Beet kvass, which is thought to have originated in the Ukraine a long time ago, is a probiotic drink that is chock full of health-giving properties and made using the humble beetroot.
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 made 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, 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.
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 about a week. 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 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.
The leftover lacto-fermented beets can be eaten as they are, turned into soup or smoothies or incorporated into any number of recipes where you’d normally use beetroot.
Beet kvass has a savoury, almost umami taste to it, with a slight sour tang, which makes it almost delicious. 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 to say he drank it with relish, however. I, on the other hand, positively look forward to drinking my dose of medicine.
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 about a week. 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.
Ensure you don't use chlorinated water, as this is likely to hinder the fermentation process.
It's best to use sea salt as the iodine added to table salt may inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria.
If you get a grey or brownish layer developing on top, don't worry, just scoop it out before sieving. But if the mixture smells off, throw it away.
Will keep in the fridge for several months.
Best taken as a small glassful twice a day.
I’m sharing this beet kvass recipe with #CookBlogShare, hosted this week over at Hijacked By Twins.
Other beetroot recipes you might like
- Baked beetroot with local honey and thyme via Farmersgirl Kitchen
- 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
- Instant pot ginger spiced beetroot soup via Jo’s Kitchen Larder