Beet Kvass– nicer than it sounds
The first time I ever tried beet kvass, I drank it for the health benefits alone. My mind couldn’t get around the salty beet flavour, and, as it turned out, my gut couldn’t either. My digestion wasn’t that great at the time, and so after a couple of pints, I was doubled over in pain. For the record: Lots of bacteria + unhealthy gut = gas pain for days. To compound the tragedy of the situation, Jam tasted it, spat it out, and declared that his taste buds had been violated forever and that no fermented Russian drinks were allowed to live in the kitchen anymore. When my gut recovered, I poured the stuff down the drain, and forgot all about it for a couple of years.
Until kombucha. I became completely addicted to the stuff, and started making my own. My house smelled like vinegar all summer, but it healed my gut enough to be able to handle fermented things without pain. Probably because I didn’t try and drink 2 pints of it a day… not that I’m an extremist or anything *ahem*.
And then Jamie got sick, while he was away on set, and somebody handed him a glass of beet, carrot, apple and ginger juice. Without even thinking about how much he despised beets, he drank the whole thing, and was shocked to find that he liked it. So he drank it every day. It didn’t cure his flu, but it did cure his lifelong abhorrence of all things beet. When he got home, he casually mentioned that he actually liked beets now, and as it was around the same time as I had decided that I liked fermented drinks again, I decided to give kvass one more shot.
And I’m so glad that I did.
Over the last year or so, the taste of kvass has grown on both of us immensely. It starts out as a tangy beet juice that you can’t really get your mind around, and then one day you find yourself thinking “Gee, it’s hot. What I’d give for a glass of kvass right now.” I’m serious. We now have a constant supply brewing on top of the fridge.
I get experimental with it– sometimes I add ginger, or burdock, or turmeric. Sometimes I add some brewed herbal tea instead of water. But the formula is always the same, and it always turns out slightly different, and slightly effervescent, and slightly magical.
And although I swore that I wouldn’t make this blog a place where I spend hours talking about WHY things are good for you (as there are plenty of people who do it, and do it well), here is a brief list of reasons why beet kvass is good for you.
1. It is jam-packed full of nutrients and minerals
2. The fermented-ness of it gives you a little rush that is highly enjoyable
3. It cleans the blood and the liver
4. It’s full of lactic acid bacteria, to aid digestion
5. I can’t remember where I read this, but there was an account of somebody travelling through Russia, and finding in all of the villages near Chernobyl, that children were being born with birth defects, and that people were dying very young, except in villages that drank beet kvass. It could be found in every home, and the people were old and healthy, and the babies were fine. I think it was in Nourishing Traditions, but I can’t find it.
6. It’s super easy to make
7. Diluted with a little sparkling water, and in a wine glass, it makes a lovely accompaniment for dinner. It’s like having a glass of wine, without the headache or swollen face (yes, that’s me)!
Beet Kvass (Adapted from Nourishing Traditions)
makes 32 oz
32 oz mason jar
1 medium-large beet
1/2 cup of whey*
2 tsp salt
Chop up the beet, and throw it in the jar. Add the rest of the ingredients, and top up with water. Leave out for 3 days, then transfer to individual bottles or jars and store in the fridge.
You can make a second, weaker batch with the same beets- just add all of the same ingredients again and repeat the process.
I will often add the following as a variation, to enhance the liver action:
2 small turmeric roots, chopped up
4 inches ginger root, chopped
4 inches burdock root, chopped
*To make whey, either leave raw milk out until it separates, then strain off the whey (clear stuff), OR, turn your yogurt into greek yogurt by straining a container of plain yogurt overnight in a dish cloth (set over a bowl to catch the whey. Strain it in the fridge, if you can (unless you want it to take on a cheesy flavour). The clear stuff that’s left in the bowl is whey!