Beet kvass may be one of the most beautiful lacto-fermented drinks that I make at home. Deep purple and slightly effervescent, some claim that beet kvass cleanses the blood, detoxifies the liver, and supports kidney health. I have even heard that kvass pulls heavy metals from our bodies. I’m not able to make any of those claims, but I certainly feel pretty good when I am drinking beet kvass regularly. So I simply trust my own experience.
Beet kvass is also very simple, only made with four ingredients: beets, salt, water, and whey. And when each ingredient is the best quality, you don’t need complicated recipes. The simple blending of these four items with a little time on the counter can provide your body with needed electrolytes, vitamins, probiotics, and well-being.
I like to make my beet kvass with more whey and less salt. I find that the lacto-fermentation process still works very well, but I don’t get an overly salty kvass in the end. The whey also helps keep the fizziness in the kvass at the perfect level. In Nourishing Traditions you can find a beet kvass recipe on page 610 (buy Nourishing Traditions here). The standard recipe is only a 1/4 cup of whey and more salt. You can try it that way as well, but I have tried several combinations and I am sharing my favorite!
You will need a few items beforehand if you want to make beet kvass. These are fairly simple to find, and will come in handy not just for making kvass, but other lacto-ferments you may want to give a try. For example, most of these items are used in my tutorial for how to make water kefir.
- half gallon glass jar (buy half gallon glass mason jars here)
- wooden spoon
- sprouting lid, like this one or this one
- dish towel, to cover
- small strainer or sieve (buy a strainer here)
The only thing you may have trouble finding or making is whey. But if you already buy raw milk it’s simple to make: you simply leave your milk out at room temperature, covered, and let it separate. Then when you let the solids drain through a sieve, the liquid that drips off is whey. Separated milk is about half whey and half curds, so a gallon of milk would give you a half a gallon of whey.
If you don’t have raw milk yet, then you can get organic, plain, whole milk yogurt. Then you can either pour the liquid off the top of it, which is whey, or you can strain the yogurt overnight in a sieve placed over a bowl and the whey will drip through. This is my preferred way to make whey myself, although I use homemade raw milk yogurt when I do.
I prefer the ease of straining yogurt to make whey for several reasons: it doesn’t take as long as separating raw milk, it separates better and cleaner, and it tastes better. Plus you can use the strained solids from the yogurt to make savory yogurt cheese, or a sweet base for a fruit tart if you mix it with honey and vanilla. Remember that there is a reason nature made our foods this way. We have use for each part!
If you have a dairy allergy and cannot use whey, then you can simply substitute with more salt in the recipe. It will be salty, but the lacto-fermentation process will still take place properly with all salt. For this recipe, you can substitute 1 tablespoon sea salt for the 1/2 cup of whey.
1 large beet, or 2 small beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
large pinch of sea salt (buy unrefined sea salt here)
1/2 cup whey
- In a half gallon jar, add cut beet cubes and sprinkle with sea salt. Pour in the whey, then top off with enough water to fill jar completely. Stir well.
- Cover with a dish towel to keep dust and bugs out of the jar. Leave on the counter at room temperature for 1-2 days. You’ll know it’s ready when you see little white bubbles or foam on the surface of the kvass.
- Remove cloth. You can leave the beets in the kvass, your you can strain them out. I like to leave them in.
- Cover with either a sprouting lid (buy a sprouting lid here or here) or a storage lid (you can buy mason jar storage lids here). Transfer the finished kvass to the refrigerator to halt the lacto-fermentation process.