When I first started fermenting food at home, I began with the traditional option of sauerkraut. And it turned my culinary world (and taste buds) upside down! It didn’t take me long to fall in love with both fermented food and drink. And the latter is what I’m here to talk about today.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make a very simple, wild fermented beet kvass!
What Is Beet Kvass?
Beet kvass is a fermented drink made from nothing more than beets and water. Because fruits and vegetables carry wild yeast on their skin, the fermenting process naturally occurs if you create the proper environment.
Let me briefly explain how you make wild fermented beet kvass.
- Scrub beets, then remove taproot and tops.
- Dice beets into chunks (size really doesn’t matter).
- Place beetroot chunks in a jar.
- Cover beets with filtered tap water.
- Let ferment for 2-4 weeks.
- Strain the solids out and reserve the juices.
- Taste your homemade beet kvass!
While many of the online tutorial you find require an addition of whey to kick start the fermenting process, it isn’t necessary. Everything you need to make a fermented beet kvass is found on (and within) the beet itself!
What Are the Health Benefits of Beet Kvass?
Beets have lots to offer you and I, when incorporated into our diets. And while I’m not a medical professional, I do know that beets have the following things to offer.
- Anti-inflammatory compounds
- Folate (vit B9)
- Vitamin C
But please don’t just take my word for it. If you want to learn more about the benefits of beets, read this article by Dr Axe!
What Does Beet Kvass Taste Like?
Wild fermented beet kvass isn’t something you’ll drink like a fruit juice. Not unless you acquire a craving for it! Beet kvass tastes like beets with an earthy undertone. Some people even like to add a pinch of salt to their drink before consuming it!
The taste of homemade beet kvass is difficult to describe. It’s like an extra-powerful punch of beet, but in fermented form.
Consider yourself warned. If you don’t like beets, fermented beet kvass probably isn’t the thing for you.
Tools You’ll Need to Make Homemade Beet Kvass
Even if you’re not accustomed to fermenting things in your kitchen, you likely have the tools you need! To make wild fermented beet kvass, you’ll need the follow items.
- 6-7 large red beets
- a 2 quart (2 litre) glass jar w/ lid
- a cotton straining cloth
- cutting board
- sharp knife
Wild Fermented Beet Kvass Recipe
As you’ve probably gathered, making beet kvass isn’t difficult. And if it wasn’t for the fact that beets stain everything they touch, it would be a wonderful project to tackle with your children! Let me walk you through the process.
Step 1: Prepare Your Beets
Whether you’re using home grown beets or if you source them elsewhere, the preparation process is all the same.
Rinse and Scrub-because this recipe uses raw beet, be sure to scrub the red roots well to remove soil, clay and dirt. That’s right! You leave the peel on.
Chop Off Taproot-the long, tail-like taproot is best removed for this project. Because it’s tiny, it may float and cause mold issues. Cut it off at the base of the beet.
Remove the Tops-be certain to remove the top of your beet root and set stalks and beet leaves aside. If there are deep cracks at the top of your beet, cut them out so you can be certain no dirt is going into your ferment.
Step 2: Chop Beets and Add to Jar
The idea behind step 2 is to create beet juice that you can then ferment into kvass. So you’re going to make something I like to call a “water infusion.” When I’m making my traditional fruit vinegar, I often do this with fruit as well.
Simply put, you chop the beet into chunks, slices or wedges, so that the properties of the beet can leach out into the water, creating a beet juice.
As you chop up your beet, go ahead and add pieces to your jar. You can fill it halfway, or go all in and fill the jar, leaving about 1-2 inches of open space at the top.
Step 3: Cover Beets with Filtered Water
Making beet kvass really isn’t complicated. Once the chopped beets have been added to your jar, go ahead and cover the beets with water.
Because beets are heavy, they won’t float (as with fruit pieces). Just ensure the topmost slices are covered by at least 1/2 inch of water, and you’ll be fine!
Step 4: Lid Your Jar and Let the Beets Sit
Next, you’re going to set a lid on top of your jar. Don’t fasten it down. As the natural beet sugars infuse into the water, natural yeasts will go into action and begin consuming the sugars.
When they do this, wild yeasts release CO2. If your lid is sealed, you’ll end up with a carbonated beet juice that is likely to spray all over your kitchen when you break the seal!
Once you’ve covered the jar, push it to the back of your kitchen counter and let the water and wild yeasts do their thing.
Note: if the thought of leaving water-covered beets out on the counter makes you uncomfortable, you do have an alternative. Fasten the lid into place and pop the jar into your refrigerator. The infusion will still occur, but the cold temps will keep the wild yeasts from going into action.
Once the infusion has taken place (about 14 days) and the beets have been strained out, let the juice ferment on the kitchen counter for 14-30 days with a cloth cover or loose fitting lid.
Watch the Tutorial!
Step 5: Skim Foam from the Surface of Your Jar
As the wild yeasts go into action a few days after you create your concoction, you’ll likely see pink bubbles on the surface of your water. A white, powdery-like substance may also appear (don’t worry, it’s not mold!) These should be skimmed off with a spoon every other day.
Here’s why: both bubbles and powder give airborne mold spores a place to land and grow. So keep the surface of your liquid clear and you shouldn’t have any problems.
I’ve read that if you want to lower the risk of mold, you should add 2-3 teaspoons of salt to a 2 quart (2 litre) size jar. But like I said, I’ve only read about this and never tried it for myself.
Step 6: Proper Beet Kvass Fermentation Time
Whether you leave your juice on the kitchen counter or pop the jar into your refrigerator, beets should be left in the jar for at least 14 days.
Truth be told, I usually leave them in until the juice has reached a full ferment (around day 30) and can be bottled up. This way I only have to mess with beet juice once!
But if you want to leave your beets for longer, you most certainly can. In fact, I recommend taste-testing it at different stages, just to see when you like it best.
Step 7: Strain Out the Solids
When you are happy with the flavor and strength of your wild fermented beet kvass, it’s time to strain out the solids. I like to line a bowl with one of these cotton cloths.
Putting it through a cloth ensures no “floaties” or solids make it into the finished product, leaving you with a pure, wild fermented beet kvass.
Step 8: Bottle Your Wild Fermented Beet Kvass
You’re almost finished! The last thing I would recommend is to store your beet juice in a bottle or jug that pours neatly. There’s a reason beet juice was traditionally used for dying cloth. It stains beautifully! Having an appropriate holding container will protect you from mishaps.
Once bottled, beet kvass should be stored in the refrigerator. And while it would likely be shelf stable for several months, there would probably still be fermenting action from wild yeasts. Forgetting to break the seal just once could result in beet juice being sprayed all over the kitchen (and yourself)!
Keeping it cool stops the action of wild yeasts and consequently, the release of carbon dioxide. So do yourself a favor and refrigerate it!
How Much Beet Kvass Should I Take?
Because of it’s unique flavor, I don’t think anyone would overdo it with beet kvass! Think of this drink as a tonic, not something you’d drink for pleasure’s sake or to quench your thirst.
Initially, I recommend starting with about 1/4-1/3 C of beet kvass. I like to take it first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.
Be warned that you may go through an initial detox if your body isn’t accustomed to healthy foods. And don’t be surprised if your urine starts to show pink color.
You are drinking beet juice, after all! 😉
The health benefits of wild fermented beet kvass are excellent when made from home grown beets. And it’s yet another way you can use up beets at the end of the gardening season. Not to mention it gives you a boost in your health during the winter months. So try it and see.
See if you don’t grow to like it!