Beet Kvass

May 14th, 2010

IMG_5051A few weeks ago I became a real kitchen scientist… I started fermenting my own drinks. Not beer or wine or anything as normal as that. I started making Beet Kvass. I first heard about this in the book Nourishing Traditions. I was intrigued because I LOVE beets. So, I decided to try it.

The result was received with mixed reviews. I liked it, but didn’t love it. My husband thought it was too salty and not worth drinking. The first few days after making it I forced myself to drink it though and by the fourth day or so I was starting to like it. So, I made more. But this time I did a few things differently. For starters I had a lot more beet this time. I used the biggest beet I’ve ever seen – after cutting it all up it almost filled my jar. Second I used less salt. This time it turned out really good – even my husband liked it alright – although he had to add a little Mattoni (sparkling mineral water) and some lime juice to it first.

The flavor is sort of earthy. It’s not really sweet like roasted beets, but it’s not really sour or savory or anything like that either. I think the best description is simply earthy, with just a little bit of a salty taste. It’s sort of an acquired taste but I’m definitely acquiring a taste for it, maybe even a little addiction.

Here are just a few of the benefits of lacto fermented drinks:

  • More hydrating then water. In order to remain hydrated your body needs a balance of sugar, salt and water. Electrolyte drinks are designed to ensure that balance, but are often packed with added preservatives, dyes and unnecessary sweeteners. Lacto fermented drinks could be called the traditional, real food version of Gatorade since they provide a great hydrating balance.
  • Support the intestinal ecosystem. Lacto fermented drinks are packed with beneficial micro-organisms. Essentially they are full of what we often call probiotics. These micro-organisms help support digestive and intestinal health, which can be critical for overall health.

Here are just a few of the benefits of beets:

  • Good for the blood. The pigment that gives beets their rich color is called Betacyanin. Betacyanin can dramatically increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood. Beets have also been used to help normalize blood pressure, improve the elasticity of arteries, and prevent varicose veins. They also contains a high-quality iron which is easily and efficiently used by the body making beets helpful in the treatment of anemia.
  • Cancer fighting properties. Beets contain very high levels of anti-carcinogens. Beet juice has been shown to “help inhibit the development of colon and stomach cancer.”
  • Good for the liver. “Beet juice helps stimulate the function of liver cells and protect the liver and the bile ducts.”
  • Reduce Inflammation. Beets contain betaine, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body particularly when combined with choline (found naturally in egg yolk for example).

In short, beet kvass is loaded with all kinds of health benefits. So, if you want to try out your own kitchen science experiment here’s how to make your very own lacto fermented beet kvass.

What You Need:

1-3 large beets (how many beets you need to use will be dependent on how large the beets are)IMG_5056
¼ cup whey
2 tsp unrefined sea salt
2-quart container
water

What to Do:

Peel and chop up the beet. You want the beet in medium to large size chunks. If you grate the beet or chop it really fine then too much of the beet sugar will be released and supposedly it can turn alcoholic.

Place the cut up beet in your 2-quart container. Add ¼ cup whey and 2 tsp unrefined salt. Add enough water to fill the rest of the container. Stir well, cover, and let it sit somewhere for about 2 days (personally think it was better after sitting for 3 days). Strain the liquid into a bottle and place it in the fridge. You can reuse the used beets for another batch by just adding more whey, salt and water to them. The second batch will be a bit weaker though. Enjoy chilled, mixed with a little bit of fresh lime juice, mixed with Matoni, or as an addition to salad dressings.

Rejoicing in the journey -
Bethany Stedman

This post has been entered in the Fight Back Friday May 14th blog carnival at Food Renegade, Food Revolution Friday at Notes from the Cookie Jar, Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker. Check out the links for lots other posts.

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28 Responses

  1. Paula says:

    I made this a few months back. I kinda liked it, but I didn’t love it (like milk kefir). It actually reminded me of a bloody mary, without the alcohol! Hmm, now that I think of it, I wonder if you could spice it up like a bloody mary & add vodka? :)

  2. April Harris says:

    That is really interesting – I knew beets were good for you but I didn’t realise you could do that with them. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Beth! Followed you here from the cookie jar! I love beet kvass and all things lacto fermented! I have been making Kombucha for years and that is usually more crowd pleasing. I really enjoyed your description, but one thing I wanted to note is whenever drinking lacto beverages, make sure to drink plenty of water as well because the ferments really help to detoxify you and you could get (gasp…tmi alert) constipation if you don’t even though, you are still well hydrated. If you are interested in Kombucha, here is a link to my recipe! http://amoderatelife.blogspot.com/2010/03/kombucha-cha-cha.html Great site and will be following you, its always a blast to find like minded folks on the web! Happy friday!

    • Beth says:

      Alex, thanks so much for the info on drinking water with Kvass. I appreciate the added information. I just read your post on Kombucha – so great and thorough! Thank you so much! I added you to my google reader and look forward to reading more! Great to meet you here on the web ;)

  4. [...] Do Celebrity Chefs Eat for Breakfast? 3. April@ The 21st Century Housewife (My Bran Muffins) 4. Beth Stedman (Making Beet Kvass) 5. A Busy Mom of Two (Cheese Puffs and Shortbread [...]

  5. Scatteredmom says:

    I had no idea you could make drinks like this from beets! Sounds really interesting. I love your layout, by the way-it’s simple and really pretty. :)

    Thanks for participating in Food Revolution Friday! I look forward to reading your posts!

  6. [...] do with bowls and bowls of whey? Honestly, I haven’t really known. I use some of it to make my beet kvass, and I plan on using some of it to ferment some vegetables soon. But, I feel like I have so much of [...]

  7. julie says:

    I made beet kvass a few years ago when I was really into NT, then had a couple of more babies, moved a few times, etc, etc, anyway, I’m back at it again the past several months. And I have two big jars of beet kvass in my fridge right now, just started drinking it at least twice a day for the last 5 days I think. I swear I”m starting to feel different, better, a glimpse of real energy and hormonal balance. I have 4 kids, so this is much appreciated! Anyway, I do think it’s a bit of an acquired taste but I’m starting to crave it now…going to try to make some lacto fermented beet pickles soon that taste something like the pickled beets my grandmother and grerat grandmother used to make…

  8. [...] Beet Kvass (posted May 2010) [...]

  9. [...] Beet Kvass (posted May 2010) [...]

  10. Approaching sixty and still living as very active lifestyle as a wife, mother of six, grandmother and full time Real Estate Broker, I am forever reading about good nutrition (loved Nurishing Traditions), and practicing good homemade cooking. I just made my first jar of beet kvass and I think I need to redo it. It was very salty and . . .that’s about it. I can not find or buy whey so I used the watery part of my organic yoghurt plus some yoghurt. I used a tablespoon of sea salt and filtered water. I let it sit for 48 hours. And I wasn’t impressed. Do you think substituting yoghurt for whey was a mistake? ( I used Stonyfield plain yoghurt.) Where can I buy whey in Western New York? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Beth says:

      Maria, I get whey by straining my yogurt through a cheesecloth (or t-shirt) – it works great and is super easy. I wrote a little bit more about it in this post about whey. The first time I made beet kvass I used the recipe from Nourishing Traditions and it turned out too salty as well, the next time I made it I put a little less salt in it and more beets. I also left it longer the second time (I think 3 or 4 days). I liked the taste of it better after it had been left longer. I hope that helps and that your next batch of beet kvass is more to your liking. It is sort of an acquired taste though ;)

  11. Fascinating post. Kombucha is the only thing that I make. This sounds intriguing and I love that the taste grows on you – means it must be good stuff! Thanks for sharing your wisdom =)

  12. Jerri Cunningham says:

    I am making my second “from scratch” recipe of beet kvass. The first was much as you described, salty. I did refill my jars with filtered water and it was weaker, just as you described. This second recipe with fresh beets has been sitting on my kitchen counter for about 24 hours and is developing a “gelatinous blob” on the surface, I’m assuming from the whey which is a few weeks old, but has been continuously refrigerated. I made it from raw milk purchased at a local dairy. My first batch didn’t develop this look and at the most appeared frothy or fizzy. Should I be concerned about drinking this gelatinous blob or should I filter it out when I am ready to consume it? It doesn’t appear particularly appetizing.

  13. Kyle says:

    I love this. The first time I made it, I drank it all in a couple of days. The second batch I drank a bit but then forgot about it. A few months later I uncovered it and it is more delicious and tastes more sweeter/beetier than when I first put it in the fridge.

  14. Hailey says:

    If you like this you all would love coconut water kefir and you can make it yourself a whole lot easier and faster than this use bodyecology raw frozen coconut water and kefir to make it even easier and it is like coconut champange you really get addicted to it fast love hailstorm

  15. [...] we have so many this year. I tried beet kvass, which turned out to be too disgusting even with its renowned health benefits. We still have a full jar in the fridge if anyone wants some. I keep thinking I’ll work up [...]

  16. BlessedCP says:

    My kvass got moldy on day 3! So so sad! I used fresh organic beets from our garden, clean well water, sterilized jars, sea salt and fresh whey from my homemade yogurt. I don’t know if it got too warm or what.

  17. [...] was in the mood to make Beet Kvass, so I went hunting on the internet for a recipe and came up with this one. Which reminded me that there is a recipe for it in Nourishing Traditions. I went with the one in [...]

  18. Michelle says:

    After the fermentation period on your countertop for the 3-4 days, place the jar in the refrigerator for at least one week, but three or four are better. The longer it sits in a cool place, the better it tastes. It becomes thick and rich in flavor and the salty taste disappears. However, you can drink it anytime after the first week. http://marly67.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/beet-kvass/

  19. Betty says:

    My guess is that kvass going moldy is caused by not enough salt + too warm for too long. Maybe sticking it into the refrig after 2 days might stave off the mold!

  20. Heather says:

    A friend of mine just gave me “starter” from her beet kvass. Is this the same as “whey”?

  21. Anna says:

    Hi everyone,

    I am from Ukraine – the country were beet kvass comes from and is a base for our traditional national dish – Ukrainian borshch. Borshch is made from beet kvass and beet kvass used to be always at hand in every Ukrainian household. We drank it as a healing medicinal tonic and used it for borshch.

    First of all, we NEVER added any whey or any other cultures to beets – this brings in different cultures, like more lactic bacteria rather than wild yeast (and kvass, from its very Ukrainian name means sour – yeast fermented and carbonated, not lactic fermented, like sauerkraut).
    Secondly, we never closed the jar tightly – as this will create pressure and may kill off some of the cultures. When this happens, slime may develop (harmless yet disgusting bacterial slime). We only cover the jar with a cheese cloth folded a few times and secured with a rubber band or a string.
    Thirdly, keep your beet kvass on the counter for at least five to seven days or longer away from sun light (or covered with a kitchen towel).
    Next, you will notice white mold forming on top of your beet kvass. This mold is harmless and is a part of the normal process. You can collect and discard this mold by spooning it from the surface. This mold is like the mold on brie cheese – not necessary the same fungi, but also harmless.
    We ALWAYS add a few crashed cloves of garlic. ALWAYS! We do not peel the garlic – just press it (or smash it) as to crack it open a bit for juices and cultures to penetrate it easier.

    No wonder many people cannot drink this beet kvass – I would not like it meself without any garlic and with whey added. I grew up drinking this stuff – NO WHEY, friends!
    Try the REAL UKRAINIAN beet kvass – you will LOVE it.
    PS: Kvass should taste a bit sour – not earthy. If it’s earthy tasting, it did not sour (did not ferment). If it tastes too strong for you – dilute your beet kvass with water.

    Good luck with making this most medicinal tonic of all.

    Anna (from Ukraine)

  22. Josh says:

    Thanks for the recipe. How to do you cover the jar during the fermentation period? If you use a tight lid what happens to the escaping CO2 gases from the ferment? Will the lid blow off the top? Thanks.

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