- Prep time 120 hours
- Serves 6
Beet kvass is a fermented drink that tastes slightly sweet, slightly salty, and very earthy. A gorgeous red hue, beet kvass is full of probiotic bacteria, and easier to make than you might imagine. Organic, farm-fresh beets are ideal, as you are relying on the microbes living on the skin to help ferment the kvass and don’t want to introduce any pesticides that may prevent fermentation into the mix. Pick up a beautiful bunch at your local farmers market and prepare to recreate this bright, tart tonic at home.
Kvass originated in Russia hundreds of years ago, as a result of spoiled grain naturally fermenting and producing a low-alcohol, high-flavor beverage when combined with sugar and yeast. Making kvass with beets is even simpler—beets’ high sugar content combined with naturally occurring yeast and lactic acid-producing bacteria makes for an incredibly flavorful finished product that’s as beneficial for your overall wellbeing as it is delicious to drink.
There are endless variations and ways to flavor your beet kvass. Ginger root slices, lemon or orange slices, allspice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, or turmeric are all great optional add-ins before fermenting.
Filtering or boiling your water is essential, as additives in tap water can affect the quality of the fermentation. Watch for any surface growth on top: A common growth on beet kvass is called kahm yeast, which typically looks like thin white strands on top of the surface. Although kahm yeast is not dangerous, it can create an off flavor in the kvass. Skim any accumulation off the top of the jar with a spoon and discard. If other surface growths appear, such as mold, the batch should be discarded or composted.
Don't toss the beets left over after making the kvass—they can be shredded and tossed in salads for a sweet, slightly pickled element (and taste especially good paired with goat cheese and walnuts). —Jess Armantrout Bitting
large beets, preferably organic
fine sea salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups
filtered or boiled water
optional add-ins, like ginger or citrus slices
- Remove any dirt from the beets with a gentle wash using filtered water, as chlorinated tap water can kill the microbes.
- Cut off the stem and root tip from each beet, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces, leaving the skin on. Add the chopped beets to a 1-quart jar until it's about halfway full.
- Add the sea salt, then pour the filtered or boiled water into the jar, leaving about an inch of head space.
- Secure the lid on the jar, and shake well to combine.
- Label the jar with the date, as well as the date to be checked—usually 5 to 7 days later.
- Be sure to "burp" the jar each day by unscrewing the lid (but not removing it), then tightening it again. This will release any built-up pressure, and prevent the jar from breaking.
- After 5 days, check the depth of flavor of the kvass—you want the saltiness to be reduced and a slightly sour, earthy, and rich flavor to be most prominent.
- When the beet kvass is fermented to your liking, use a sieve to strain the liquid into jars, label them, and store in the fridge for up to three months.
- Enjoy the beet kvass on its own, diluted with sparkling water (our favorite), or as a stand in for vinegar in homemade salad dressings.