Beet kvass is an acquired taste – it's salty, earthy and it tastes like beets. Some of us can't stand beets and some of us can't get enough of them. If you're in the latter group, count yourself lucky! Beets are an incredible local superfood. Their deep red colour is due to phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains are potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and they support liver detoxification. With beet kvass, not only do we get the nutritional benefits of beets, but we also get a healthy dose of probiotics. Win win!
Kvass is a traditional ferment from Eastern Europe. Often made using bread ends and salt, today I'll share a version of a recipe popularized by Sally Fallon's book, "Nourishing Traditions" that uses only beets.
Wild Beet Kvass
2 large or 3 small organic beets, washed with ends trimmed and chopped into 1-2 inch cubes (please use organic, we want healthy bacteria on the surface of the beet to ferment and don't peel or scrub the bacteria away! Just give them a good wash to remove dirt)
1 Tbsp high quality sea salt (avoid iodized salts that interfere with fermentation, Celtic or Himalayan are good options)
Optional: you can use a starter if you like, but it's not necessary. Sally Fallon's recipe adds whey, use 1/8 cup. You can also add a few spoonfuls of brine from another veggie ferment (like sauerkraut brine).
Wash and chop beets. It's important to chop beets into larger pieces, roughly 1-2 inches. If the beets are too small or if you grate them, the ferment will happen too quickly and you'll produce alcohol.
Place chopped beets in a clean glass jar or other fermentation vessel. You want the chopped beets to fill 1/-3 to 1/2 of the jar.
Dissolve sea salt in filtered water. Please use filtered for this, as the chlorine in tap water will inhibit the fermentation process.
Pour water over beets until within 1 inch of rim.
Cover with a lid and place in a warm spot to ferment for as little as 2 days in warmer temperatures and up to 2 weeks if you're house is cool.
Check your kvass daily, removing the lid to release carbon dioxide. You'll know it's finished when it tastes tangy and slightly fizzy. Once fermented to your liking, simply strain out the liquid and transfer to your fridge. You can add more water to your beets and make a second round of weaker kvass or you can add the beets to a salad or soup.
If you're new to kvass or beets, you may want to start with just a few spoonfuls daily building up to enjoying a small glass.
I really like my beet kvass simple and have come to really appreciate the salty and earthy aroma. If you prefer, you can add more flavour by adding orange rind, ginger root, cinnamon sticks, cardamon or garlic cloves.
Hope you enjoy this incredible digestive tonic that does so much to help our body's detoxify. Next week I'll show you how to make water kefir. A delicious, simple lemonade-like ferment.