Beet kvass is known for its nourishing qualities, especially as a stomach tonic. Beets are powerhouses packed with vitamins, such as folate, that are enhanced when fermented. There are many ways to culture beet juice and produce this lively beverage – I like to ferment mine with a combination of wild bacteria, of the beet but also from brines of other cultured vegetables.
Traditionally, in 10th century Eastern Europe, kvass was fermented from the yeast of stale black or rye bread. Today it’s common to follow this traditional ingredient with the addition of whey.
I don’t use bread or whey. With this recipe, you get the full flavor profile of the beet, and the bacteria therein. As I always recommend, use quality ingredients: the quality of the ingredient increases the quality of the culture. We rely on the quality of the bacteria that’s carried in our vegetables to bring us tasty flavors.
Yields 1 gallon, 3-4 weeks
3 quarts water
6 large beets
2 tablespoons salt
¼ cup cultured brine (sauerkraut juice)
Gallon glass jar
1) Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 2 quarts of water. This serves as the brine for your kvass – I prefer less salt with my kvass. You can double the salt content if you prefer a saltier version. Save your last quart of water to fill your fermentation vessel.
NOTE: I like to use filtered or spring water, but you can use tap water, too. I like to keep a few gallons of tap water out in the open, allowing the chlorine to evaporate out over the course of a few nights.
2) Cut your 6 large beets into quarters and place in the glass gallon jar. The jar should be close to ¾ full.
3) Pour your recently made brine into the glass gallon jar, covering the beets. Add more water to completely submerge the beets and fill the jar. If filling the jar requires more than one quart of water, add more than one quart.
4) Cover the jar with a clean tea towel and secure with a rubber band. Beets are sweet and can attract unwanted bugs, so secure well.
5) Let the beets and brine sit for 2-3 weeks. I let mine sit for a full 3 weeks, to get the most out of the beets.
6) After 3 weeks, strain the beets from the brine into a clean gallon jar and add your ¼ cup of cultured brine. A cultured brine is any brine saved from a leftover fermented vegetables. This could even be the leftover brine from kimchi. I like to use sauerkraut brine from an especially well received sauerkraut. I find this introduces an especially nice touch to beet kvass, and boosts the fermentation process.
7) One week later: bottle and store in a cool place. The kvass is rich in flavor and best in small amounts — like a tonic. If you prefer an effervescent beverage (as I do), store in a sling top bottle at room temperature for a few days before storing in a cool place.