Thi story was originally published in 2013, but we loved it so much we decided to bring it back!
We love this super-healthy recipe for traditional beet kvass from Hannah at Nothing But Delicious. We’re peering over Hannah’s shoulder as she takes us through the in’s and out’s of this old-school health beverage. What do you think: would you or wouldn’t you?
What is Beet Kvass?
Before I ever tasted beet kvass, I read that “to drink it is to taste the blood of the Earth”. Dramatic! But then I made beet kvass myself and…wow.
I’m no stranger to fermented food and drink – from kefir to kombucha to kimchi, I love it all! But I’ve never tasted anything quite like this thick, crimson liquid; it is salty, ever-so-slightly sweet, ever-so-slightly sour and somewhere, underneath all of that, it tastes the way that soil smells in the springtime. And, oh boy, is it pungent.
Kvass has been a staple in Eastern Europe since the 10th century B.C. Traditional brews are made with rye bread, currants, raspberries and a number of other fruits, but no type of kvass is quite as beneficial as one made with beets, which the Russians have long claimed cleanses the blood and other internal organs. They weren’t far off; beets contain nutrients that have been proven to detoxify the liver, lower blood pressure and aid in the production of stomach acid. Because kvass is made with raw beets, it preserves these nutrients; the longer beets are cooked, the less phytonutrients they retain.
To say that beet kvass is an acquired taste is an understatement. If you didn’t grow up drinking the stuff, there’s a good chance that, despite it’s magical healing properties, you’ll be turned off by it. Luckily, there’s an easy way to warm up to it, and believe me, you will warm up to it.Pour half a cup kvass into a tall glass, mix it with a splash of agave nectar, then top it with lots of ice and soda water. Use aromatic herbs, if you have some on hand. Muddle raw cane sugar with mint, thyme or basil before adding the kvass, or simply place a sprig in the glass so that it hits your nose before you begin to drink.
How To MakDo:
…sanitize your beets and your jar, which should be a friendly, bad-bacteria-free environment in which the good bacteria in whey can thrive.
…fuss over cutting the beets. If the pieces are too large, the fermentation process will happen very slowly. If they’re too small, you might be making beet wine.
…seal your jar tightly. True lacto-fermentation happens in an anaerobic environment. One of the only ways that making kvass can go wrong is mold and mold can only grow where there is oxygen.
…drink kvass cold.
…worry if you come up short on whey. You actually don’t have to use whey at all, but it will expedite the fermentation process and add nutrition to your kvass.
…use plastic. For anything. Ever. It’s a hotbed for filth of all sorts.
…peel the beets- it’s difficult, messy and unnecessary. As long as you pull off any lingering roots and sanitize the whole beet with boiling water, you’re good to go.
…be alarmed if your toilet bowl turns red. This is a harmless phenomenon called beeturia and it happens to about 15% of people.
How To Make Beet Kvass
- Equipment32 ounce glass jar with lid*fine mesh strainercoffee filter or cheese clothyogurt or kefir
10-12 ounces (one very large) beet
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons whey
Place coffee filter or cheese cloth in fine mesh strainer over a bowl and separate whey from yogurt or kefir- sometimes this takes a while, so give yourself time. Whey should be completely clear.
Pour boiling water over whole beets and into the jar to sanitize. Remove any roots and chop beets into 1/2" cubes. Put them in the clean jar with whey and salt, then cover with filtered water.
Leave the jar on the counter for 48 hours. You can tell the kvass is ready when it's really, really fizzy. At this point, you can let it sit for another day or two to develop a more sour flavor, or pop it in the fridge, where it keeps for about a week.
Remember my tips above for adding fresh herbs and making your kvass even fizzier!
do you think you could make this with water kefir??thanks! (:
you don’t need starter culture, as ferment will happen on it’s own from the bacteria that are already in the raw beets. If you use a glass air-tight jar when fermenting, you may be creating a bomb without knowing it, so use plastic so you can squeeze to judge how much CO2 is in there. No need to worry about “bad” bacteria, the ferment process will kill the bad stuff. My jars are open air, and the ferment happens just fine. I also just do a pinch of salt, ferment happens just fine.
I made beet kvass using three beets cut into half inch cubes added 32 ounces of filtered water and whey . The fourth day it was still very light with no taste nothing like the excellent store bought Zukay brand , so I put the cubed beets through my omega juicer and added it to the home made kvass then immediately refrigerated .After cooling it tasted almost as good as Zukay .
You wrote “If you didn’t grow up drinking the stuff, there’s a good chance that …you’ll be turned off by it.” That might put a lot of people off trying it. I had some for the first time a couple of weeks ago and thought it tasted like a yummy, salty vegetable broth. It smelled very strongly of beets but tasted much milder.
The recipe doesn’t say what to do at the end…do you just drink liquid and/or just eat the beet chunks , I thought it was supposed to be a juice?? bit confuse how your supposed to consume it.
Hi Amber, sip on the juice!
Should I filter the beet kvass before sipping it?
Whey should be clear?? When I drain Greek yogurt it is always cloudy, is that bad?
I’m so tired of seeing Kvass recipes that call for whey.
I’ve made it without a culture starter , turned out fine , I’ve also used my gingerbug starter and added 1 butterflies jalapeño pepper ( which I weighed down with a sterile stone , cuz it wanted to float), as well as grated ginger ( 1 inch of root ).
Didn’t notice aNY ginger flavor ,but the jalapeño sure made a difference.
I mix it with my white cranberry gingerbug juice and add soda, amazing combination of sweet , spicy , salty tangy ! : )
I cover my kvass with a cheesecloth/rubber band. It never gets fizzy. If I want it fizzy, should I put an airtight lid on it? Or is there another trick to getting fizz? Thanks