Russian Kvas or Kvass is a refreshing fermented drink that is usually made from Rye bread. It’s almost like a version of Russian Coca-Cola that has been drunk for hundreds of years in Eastern Europe. It’s classed as a non-alcoholic drink, and usually contains about 0.05% alchol in it, like your de-alcoholized beer in the grocery store.
Kvas is also used in Russian soups, such as Okroshka. It was said that the peasants drank more Kvas than water. The process is quite commercialised now, where you can buy Kvas in the grocery store, next to Pepsi, however it just doesn’t taste as good as the home brew.
There are different types of Kvas, I’ve made a naturally fermented Beet Kvas which is incredibly healthy and full of probiotics. You can add different fruits to Kvas, honestly Kvas can be made with almost anything, there are some
scary inventive Kvas recipes out there. Be careful what you try!
Rye Bread Kvas has added brewer’s yeast, but Beet Kvas ferments naturally and bubbles from the lacto-fermentation. My Russian Kvas recipe recommends for the bottled Kvas to sit in the fridge for 3 days for better flavour, but you can drink it right away if you like. It tastes better the longer it sits before you drink it.
Russian Kvas has been a traditional summer drink, although nothing would stop you from making it in the winter. In Soviet times, there was a large ‘barrel’ of Kvas on wheels that people would line up to buy a glass of Kvas, always drunk from a communal cup. Thank goodness that doesn’t happen anymore.
Sometimes Kvas is spelt Kvass, for reasons unknown to me. In Russian, Kvas has 4 letters, which literally spell K-v-a-s phonetically, so I am completely at a loss at the extra letter S in kvass. Maybe I should stop whining about the phonics, and pour myself another cold glass from my Russian Kvas recipe. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- loaf of dark Rye Bread 400g (the darker the better)
- 5 litres water
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons brewers yeast (7 grams or 1 packet)
- 2 teaspoons raisins (sultanas)
- Fill large stock pot with 5 litres of water and bring to a boil.
- Toast the bread on the darkest toaster setting. The darker the toast, the darker the kvas will be, a little blackness is ok. (fyi...the smoke alarm might go off)
- When the water is boiled, remove from heat. Add the toast to the boiling water, cover and allow to cool (better to leave overnight).
- Strain the toasted bread using a cheese cloth.
- The kvas will be cold at this moment. Quickly warm up the kvas on the stove, until it is warm and around 35°C/95°F. Don't use water hotter than 45°C/110°F, or it will kill the yeast. If the water is cold, the yeast won't activate.
- Add the yeast, sugar, honey and 1 teaspoon of raisins and allow to sit for 6-8 hours. Stir to make sure the sugar and honey are fully dissolved. You will see foam and bubbles start to rise in the kvas.
- Strain the kvas using a cheese cloth. Put 2-3 raisins in each soft drink bottle and pour the kvas and seal tightly. Only fill the bottle about ⅔ of the way, squeezing the sides letting air out, as it will continue to ferment and expand in the fridge. The next day, when the bottle is too tight, open it to release some air out, and squeeze again.
- After about 3 days in the fridge, your kvas is ready to enjoy!