Photo credit: Bella Doty
Recipe credit: Susan Teton
Beet kvass carries with it all the benefits of beets, marrying them with the benefits of fermented foods for a deeply cleansing tonic. Beets possess strong antioxidant capacity with an ORAC value of 1,776 which may be why beet kvass is considered a nourishing tonic for the liver, blood and intestinal track. The fermentation process enhances the already strong nutritional profile of raw beets, increasing levels of food enzymes and B vitamins. It also inoculates the beets with beneficial bacteria which support immunity and digestive system health.
It is easy to make and delicious when chilled. A 4 oz drink twice a day is sure to sooth your tummy and delight your palate.
You will need:
1-2 tbsp sea salt
whey, kefir starter or living sauerkraut juice (as a fermenting agent)
1 glass jar with lid (canning jars work great)
filtered water (enough to fill the container you are making it in)
Optional: Additional flavorings like ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, rosemary, peppers, allspice, coriander, cardamom or orange peel make for a lively and highly medicinal kvass. Experiment to your own liking.
Wash, peel and chop enough beets to fill about one third of the container you will be using to ferment the kvass. A glass jar or fermentation crock will work nicely (don’t use plastic or metal). After peeling the beets, chop them into small pieces about the size of a green olive. If the pieces are too small or grated the kvass may result in an alcoholic type beverage. Alternatively, cutting them into large pieces may result in a weaker beverage.
To make your own whey, strain fresh live plain yogurt through a cheese cloth capturing the liquid whey, or use a Greek yogurt maker to access the whey from the yogurt. Use about 1/4 cup of whey per quart of kvass. Whey does have a slight effect on the flavor.
Mix the kefir starter in about a cup of luke warm or room temperature water. When the starter crystals are thoroughly blended with the water, add it to the kvass water mixture. Kefir starter is flavor neutral.
Juice from Sauerkraut or Cultured Veggies:
Use about 1/3 cup fresh live juice to ferment the batch with. This juice also has an effect on the flavor. Don’t use juice from pasteurized sauerkraut or kimchi as it is not living.
Combine the beets, starter of choice, salt (to taste) and any other flavorings to the jar and fill with water. Secure the lid, and cover the jar with a light towel to keep out the light. Set in cool dry place to ferment for 1 week and then decant.
Once decanted, leave the beets and flavorings in the jar and make another batch by filling the the jar with water, salt and about 1/2 cup of the batch you just decanted. This will serve as your fermenting agent this time around. I have found that my second batch is always weaker, but always good!
Note: The salty brine is what keeps your kvass from molding, and of course provides flavor and minerals. However, there are many times I gone to decant my kvass and there is small mold discs floating on the top. This does not seem to effect the kvass. Remove the mold and then taste your kvass. You will taste if anything has gone wrong with it. I have never experienced a batch going bad even though some mold will appear. In addition, the beets and other foods added take on a new look and color as they ferment. Don’t let this concern you. It will still be yummy.
Once you have completed the process for either one or two batches you can discard the beets to the compost pile or cook them in a little water until soft. With a little butter and some salt, they are delicious!