Beet Kvass

You only need a few ingredients to make this Beet Kvass recipe but for your minimal effort, you will create an incredibly beneficial health tonic!

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Beet Kvass is earthy, sweet, sour, and salty all at once. If you like to drink pickle juice, you will love kvass from the first sip. If not, know it’s an acquired taste, but like all fermented foods, you will begin to crave it as your body utilizes its benefits. Let’s be real though… Most people are either beet lovers or loathers. If you don’t like beets at all, make kombucha, water kefir, or sodas with ginger bug for a probiotic drink. If you are on the beet lover side, you will look forward to drinking this every single day!

The health benefits of Beet Kvass are many.  Kvass is a blood tonic that promotes regularity, aids indigestion, alkalizes the blood, treats kidney stones, cleanses the liver, and is brimming with probiotics. Follow this recipe to give kvass a go in your own kitchen.

 

Equipment

2-quart glass container with lid, sterilized – I have several extra-large 4-quart Ball jars that I use for fermentation. I double this recipe to make kvass in these jars.

Mesh strainer

Vegetable peeler

Sharp knife

Bottles for decanting, sterilized – I like to use glass wine or sparkling water containers. Be sure they have a tight seal so that they will contain the slight carbonation of your finished product.

 

Recipe

3 medium or 2 large organic beets, peeled – Some recipes call for unpeeled beets but I personally do not like the way the finished kvass tastes. I always peel my beets!

1/4 cup whey – The recipe for whey and cream cheese is below. You can also use live sauerkraut or other fermented veggie juice, live kombucha, or ginger bug.

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 quarts filtered water

Coursely cut the peeled beets and place them in your 2-quart container.

 

As with all fermentation, your container must be scrupulously clean. I use the sterilization setting on my dishwasher for this purpose making sure my containers are completely cooled before use to ensure beneficial bacteria are not killed by heat.

Now add the whey (or another fermentation starter) and salt to the beets.

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Cover the beets with water and stir well.

 

When you stir the kvass and the salt dissolves, it will appear slightly foamy. Cover the container. You can use a special fermentation seal that automatically vents or burp the container a few times per day. This isn’t a step that you can forget since the jar can explode if too much pressure builds up.

Because of the high sugar content in beets, kvass is a fast ferment. If your house is warm, it can take as little as two days. In a chilly winter kitchen, it can take up to a week. Be careful not to stretch the fermentation too long because the sugar can cause mold to develop quickly. I like to put mine in the fridge at the three-day mark.

 

As the kvass starts to ferment, you will see lots of bacteria activity. Bubbles will begin to form around the beets and travel up to make their escape. The bubbling action can get so alive that your jar of kvass looks carbonated. As the bubbles rise, you will notice foam on the top of your kvass. It is normal for this foam to have a slightly brown cast.

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In order to produce a rich beet taste without risking mold formation, I add one last step to my preparation before straining. After the initial three day fermentation, I place my covered container into the fridge for two to three days. I find that this greatly deepens the flavor of the kvass. After the rest in the fridge, remove the container, give the kvass a quick stir, and then strain the beets out reserving the liquid.

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Some recipes suggest a second round of fermentation by adding fresh water to the used beets, allowing them to ferment for a second time. I find the result much too light and prefer to discard the beets after the first use.

Now carefully put your strained kvass into sterilized bottles and refrigerate. Drink several ounces a day either diluted with a touch of sparkling water or straight up. The salty-sour flavor may seem strange at first but your body knows what’s good for it. In short order, you will find yourself craving your daily tonic! It will keep for months in the fridge but probably won’t last that long.

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WHEY and CREAM CHEESE

This recipe produces two products. The first, whey, is essential for making all kinds of lacto-fermented products and soaked grains. In lacto-fermentation, the beneficial bacteria in the whey will give your fermentation process a kickstart, allowing you to use less salt in your recipes. You may also use whey in soaking grains, brown rice, and beans to reduce the phytic acid and other “anti-nutrients” in them, allowing for easier digestion and increased nutrient bio-availability.

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Recipe

32-ounce carton of organic, full-fat yogurt

stainless steel bowl and strainer that nest nicely

paper towel

plastic wrap

Nest your strainer inside the stainless steel bowl and place the paper towel in the bottom of the strainer. Make sure there aren’t big wrinkles in the towel and that the edges are tucked in at the top. If the edges of the towel are hanging over the side, it will draw the whey up and out instead of into the bowl. Stir the yogurt and add the entire carton to the towel-lined strainer and cover the entire contraption with plastic wrap. You may use some extra plastic wrap or a large rubber band to secure the strainer and bowl so that you have a sturdy system.

Place the straining yogurt into the fridge overnight or until there is no liquid dripping through the strainer. The liquid that ends up in the bowl is your whey! Pour this liquid into a very clean mason jar. It will keep in the fridge for 6 months, but if you start fermenting all the veggies in your refrigerator, it will get used up quickly.

Once you have the whey that you need, you will be left with strained yogurt which is what is sold in the market as Greek yogurt. This product is also what was historically used like cream cheese. You can eat this just like regular yogurt, adding maple syrup, your favorite fruit preserves, or nuts. Also, try making it into muesli with oats and seeds. This traditional, European breakfast is incredibly healthy with both soaked grains and beneficial bacteria. You can also make savory spreads or dips with it. Add chives, parsley, cilantro, dill, and a tiny bit of chopped garlic with salt and pepper for a healthy and delicious veggie dip or spread for a bagel.

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