Kvass means different things to different people. In most Eastern European and Slavic nations, it is regarded as a low alcohol, fermented drink made from Rye Bread. It is sort of like a rye beer.
Beet kvass, a popular, probiotic and nutrient-rich lacto-fermented drink, may have started to be dubbed “kvass” because of some similarities to its Slavic counterpart. Kvass has come to be considered a health drink among fermenters that is made with ingredients besides bread (and is lacto-fermented as opposed to an alcohol ferment). Sometimes other ingredients were added to kvass in Eastern Europe, such as beet juice, caraway (which is also tasty in this kvass), and berries. This is likely the reason why modern lacto-fermented beet tonic is called “kvass.”
Why drink it? Lacto-fermented kvass has some advantages to the other kvass from a health perspective. Rather than contain alcohol, this root veggie kvass is loaded with not just vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B6, folate, manganese, Potassium, Vitamin C, and many more. It will also contain healthy probiotic bacteria which proliferate during the fermentation process. These are associated with improved digestion, and the nutrients of fermented foods are also better absorbed by the body. Finally, Beets were also recently discovered to enhance athletic performance, help regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and more.
My recipe includes carrots and ginger, which you can include or omit. These items will add additional flavors and health benefits. The salt used was Pink Himalayan, which is higher in trace minerals and electrolytes than regular salt, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
You will need: Cutting board & knife; quart or half-gallon mason jar; measuring spoons;
Suggested: due to carrot slices or other produce rising to the surface (which can then create mold), if you’re using a quart jar, this product works much better than glass weights:
For a half-gallon jar, there is no weight that can cover the full diameter of the jar, and so if floaters are a problem, one solution is to fill a small ziploc bag with a bit of water (or brine, in case it opens) and place it over the veggies. I sometimes do this together with the glass weights.
A half-gallon jar will make about 4-5 cups (~8-10 servings) of kvass (and can repeat the process with a new batch of brine)
Quantities are for a half gallon. Cut in half for a quart jar (as shown in photos).
- 4 medium beets, cleaned and cubed (or mix and match with other root veggies like turnip and daikon)
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 large nub ginger, sliced (~40-50g)
- 1.5 TBSP (or 23g) non-iodized salt dissolved in 4.5 cups filtered, distilled, or otherwise clean water. (This will make ~2% brine salinity, ideal for beets and a quick ferment)
1.) Rinse and clean the produce; for organic produce, peeling is optional (I usually do the rough spots and remove the tops and bottoms, which I use in other things)
2.) Cube the beets to about 1/2″ pieces; slice the carrot and ginger
3.) Place the produce in the jar.
4.) To make the saltwater brine, place the salt in a jar with the water and shake vigorously for a minute or two. Alternately, you can heat the water until the salt dissolves in it, but then wait for it to return to room temperature.
5.) Pour the saltwater into the jar until it reaches the shoulder. Then add any weights and determine if any more (or less) brine is needed. About 4 cups in all will be used. (Excess brine can be placed in a ziploc and placed on top of the veggies.)
Keep the ferment on a shelf out of direct sunlight for fermenting. You can store in the fridge at any time but be aware it will greatly slow the rate of fermentation.
Ferment length: Although some people will start drinking it within a couple days, waiting longer will yield more probiotic bacteria. You may enjoy the flavor even more too. Consider a length of several days to a week, and perhaps make a second batch to see what it tastes like after a few weeks. I personally like very fermented beets for eating (around 3+ months), so you could also keep the beets going at room temperature once you’ve had the drink. You could do this by replacing the brine. Which brings us to the next point…
Other ideas: After you’ve consumed the liquid, you can make another batch of 2% brine and add it to the beets, carrots, and ginger. It will make a whole new batch of kvass. Beets are a very potent source of nutrients and thus can be reused to make kvass a few times.
Eating the veggies: Even after using the veggies to make kvass a few times, the veggies will still be a viable source of nutrients (though reduced), probiotics, fiber, and more. If you don’t have the patience to ferment the beets, carrots and ginger for a few months to eat them, you might still enjoy them when they’re younger. The texture will be harder on the part of the beets. You also could cook them and put them in an arugula salad with goat cheese or feta, and pomegranate seeds. Or fine chop it all into a relish. Or anything else that sounds good to you!