Monday, June 8, 2009

Beet Kvass

Last week, I had some extra beets lying around, and instead of throwing them in the compost bin, I decided to make beet kvass for the first time ever. Now, for those of you who are not inclined to eat beets because you grew up with those dastardly canned beets, I don’t blame you. I thought they were disgusting, too! But fresh or pickled beets are something else entirely. And so is beet kvass (it rhymes with "floss").

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. Filled with B vitamins such as thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and pyridoxine (B6), beets can aid the body’s ability to handle stress. Moreover, they provide minerals like iron, potassium, sodium, iodine, and manganese, and are also a great source of folic acid. The nutritional value of beets is so high that despite their high sugar content, I would still recommend beets to diabetics (in moderation). Beets are also a great liver and blood tonic, and are often recommended by naturopathic doctors both to support the liver and build up the blood.

Now: what in the world is kvass? Simply put, kvass is a sour, fermented drink that has been used in traditional Slavic/Russian/Ukrainian culture literally for centuries. It can also be added to stews or used in place of vinegar in salad dressing. Since beets are such an integral part of Slavic cuisine, it only makes sense that beets can be used to make kvass (though they are not required). I found that properly made beet kvass is quite salty and sour, but taken from the refrigerator, is delicious and quite refreshing. And soon after I drink it, I get an incredible feeling of being replenished and energized. Poking around the internet a bit, I found that many people have had the same experience.

I stumbled across a simple recipe for beet kvass in the excellent cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Making beet kvass is exceedingly simple but actually takes a few days because of the fermentation process. Here is the recipe (and commentary) for beet kvass, slightly edited but taken directly from Nourishing Traditions. Enjoy!

This refreshing drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments. Beet kvass may also be used in place of vinegar in salad dressings and as an addition to soups.
  • 3 medium or 2 large organic beet roots, peeled and chopped up coarsely.
  • 1/4 cup whey (the liquid made from strained whole organic yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt (or 2 if you choose not to use whey)
  • filtered water
Place beet roots, whey and salt in a 2-quart glass container. Add filtered water to fill the container. Stir well and cover securely. Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator. Drink two to three 4 ounce cups of kvass a day.
When most of the kvass has been drunk, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another 2 days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first. After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your inoculant instead of the whey.

Note: Do not use grated beet roots in the preparation of beet tonic. When grated, beets exude too much juice resulting in a too rapid fermentation that favors the production of alcohol rather than lactic acid.


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  1. Sounds interesting and with the farmer's markets season here good beets are easy to find. ;)

  2. welcome to blogging! Looking forward to seeing what else you end up writing about!
    tracey zimmer