I have fond memories drinking deep pink Russian Beet Kvass Recipe that my grandfather made from beets (beetroot). The fermentation of Beet Kvass is similar to making fermented Kimchi or Kombucha. The color is an amazing bright fuchsia colour changing to a deep red. While I don't have my dedushka's exact recipe, I have played around with several recipe variations and am happy with this one.
What's Beet Kvass?
Russian Beet Kvass (Свекольный квас) is a Russian probiotic drink made with fermented beets, taken like a tonic, almost medicinal. An authentic Russian recipe full of nutrients and vitamins with amazing immune boosting properties.
Kvass in Russian, means to ferment. It's been made in Russia for hundreds of years. It's almost viewed as a soft drink, a cool refreshing drink. The most common kvass is made from rye bread - Russian Kvas from Rye Bread and is absolutely delicious. There are many flavours of Kvass, with many methods, but I'm focussing on the healthy benefits of beets and lacto-fermentation.
Is Beet Kvass healthy?
Beets are incredibly healthy. Russians believe that Beet Kvass has healing powers aiding high blood pressure, low iron anaemia, metabolic disorders, aids digestion, helps constipation, removes toxins from the liver. Some think it even helps you lose weight! It's really believed for much more, trust me. I'm sure some of it can't be backed by science yet, although some of the claims are now proving true. Do some research, it's pretty remarkable. It's even called the "elixir of youth" or "miracle drink" and full of antioxidants and nutrients.
Kvass is not plain beet juice, as the effect to your body changes in the fermentation process (think chopped cabbage vs sauerkraut, totally different). Strangely enough, they say Kvass shouldn't be consumed it you have kidney stones, bladder disease, gout, stomach ulcers or rheumatoid arthritis, as it can aggravate those conditions. You should always consult a doctor when trying new things you read about on the internet!
It's recommended to start drinking Russian Beet Kvass in small amounts, no more than ½ cup a day, until your body gets used to it and then can slowly increase your intake, otherwise you might have a 'cleansing of your bowels'. It's never affected me, but some say it can affect.
Is Beet Kvass salty?
It's funny how almost every single Beet Kvass recipe written in the English language, has salt in the recipe. Alternatively, the Russian recipes are all made with sugar! The comments from the English recipes all say how horrible Kvass tastes, well no kidding, if you are making it with salt!
Just because something is healthy, doesn't mean it has to taste horrible! Stop punishing yourselves! I think it has to do with the fact that salt stops bacteria from growing. Some well meaning person took the fermentation principles from sauerkraut and applied them to beet kvass, which was copied by other people.
Try a real healthy Russian Beet Kvass Recipe, made with sugar, which tastes much better! And I suggest it's healthier than the salty English version of Beet Kvass, less sodium!
How to make Beet Kvass
There are many Beet Kvas recipes out here, most of them have only plain beets, but some recipes, like this one, add crusty rye bread pieces. You can skip this of course, but it's how I remember my grandfather making it. How much rye bread do you add? Just a slice, or just the end piece from the loaf that people usually don't like to eat.
It's very important to use cooled boiled water or bottled spring water, as the chlorine from tap water inhibits the fermentation process. We always boiled regular tap water and cooled it completely. Or just buy a few litres of spring water, that is chlorine free.
Keep the fermentation at room temperature, warmer temperatures will speed up your time required, and if its cooler in the house, then you might need to allow a longer fermentation period. The best part of this recipe is that you can re-use the same beets for a second fermentation to make kvass again.
Like all things that are fermenting, use your sense of smell. There are many variables that can go wrong when fermenting at home. Trust your nose. If it smells wrong, spoiled or rancid, then just throw it out and start again. I'm always safe then sorry.
When finished fermenting, it's meant to be stored in the fridge, and I drink it within a week. You can drink it plain, but sometimes I add this fermented beet juice into my smoothies for an extra boost of vitamins and probiotics, or mix it with kompot or your favorite fruit juice. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Russian Beet Kvass (Свекольный Квас)
Russian Beet Kvass (Свекольный квас) is a Russian probiotic drink made with fermented beets, taken like a tonic or added to a smoothie. The original Pink Russian Kvass recipe full of nutrients and vitamins with amazing immune boosting properties.
- 3 medium sized beets peeled and roughly diced, grated or sliced
- 4 heaped tablespoons sugar
- 2 litres of spring water or cooled boiled water, don't use tap water
- Chopped crust from a Rye bread loaf
Place scrubbed cut beets into a large glass bottle.
Add sugar and spring water and mix until dissolved.
Add the rye bread crust into the mix.
Cover with a loose lid or with a cheesecloth and place in a cool dark area from 3-7 days. If you are putting a tight lid on, you need to burp it daily. Taste daily.
When it is ready, skim off the top any foam and carefully strain the Kvass through a cheesecloth and keep refrigerated.
You can use these beets for another round or two of fermentation. Just add sugar again and water with ¼ cup of Kvass and repeat.