Sunday, May 10, 2015

Beet Kvass: The Easiest Fermented Beverage

There are a lot of fermented beverages in the world.

Alcohol fermented beverages are very visible: some examples are wine, beer, hard cider, and mead. Historically, these beverages have served many roles. Alcohol has psychoactive properties, so since the beginning, these drinks have had roles in religious and spiritual ceremonies and practices. And alcohol is anti-microbial, so these drinks remain safe to drink even in places where drinking water is not. In the past, these drinks were common everyday beverages. Many of them had lower alcohol content than today's versions.

Because of the popularity of alcohol fermented beverages, it is easy to overlook the importance of sour fermented beverages. Sour dairy drinks like buttermilk, whey, kefir, and yogurt and yogurt-based drinks have been important dietarily and culturally for a long time. Kombucha has recently become a huge industry in United States. Other drinking vinegars and shrubs have recently become trendy in the realm of craft cocktails. And it is easy to forget that root BEER and ginger ALE were originally fermented beverages, too, before they became flavors of soda.

In my opinion, a great starting point for home beverage fermenting is beet kvass. It is very easy to make, it is tasty (at least I like it!), and it has great health benefits.

Here is my recipe for beet kvass.

Beet Kvass

(makes 2 quarts / 2 liters)


  • 2 or 3 medium-sized red beets, rough cut into 1/2-inch (1cm-2cm) cubes or equivalent. (If they're organic, no need to peel them.)
  • 1Tbsp (15g) high-quality salt (sea salt or Himalayan salt is best; kosher salt is okay too)
  • filtered water (no chlorine)
  • (optional) a few slices of ginger


  • a 2-quart (2L) mason jar


  • Add beets to the jar to fill it to about 1/3 full.
  • Add water to fill the jar to 1/2 full.
  • Add salt (and ginger if you are using it).
  • Put the lid on the jar tightly, and shake the jar until the salt is dissolved.
  • Open the jar, and add more water until the jar is nearly full, leaving 1 inch (2.5cm) of space at the top.
  • Close the jar, and let it sit for 4 days to a month or longer.
Every day for the first several days, feel the top of the lid, and if it is firm, "burp" the jar (unscrew the lid just enough to let some air escape, then tighten it again). 

You may start drinking the kvass any time you like, but it's best after at least 4 days, or longer if you are in a cooler environment.

Once you have started drinking it, it is best to keep the remaining kvass in the refrigerator--otherwise the exposure to air can encourage yeast to form on the surface, and your kvass can become slimy.

The beet pieces may be eaten along with the drink, or they may be used in a salad, juiced, or whatever.

You can experiment with shapes besides cubes if you like, but if you cut them too small, the kvass may become slimy.

Beet kvass may be consumed on its own, as a daily health drink. But it can also be used in soups, like borscht or gazpacho, or in sauces (keeping in mind that its health benefits are diminished if it's heated). It can even be used in mixed drinks like Bloody Marys and micheladas!


Unknown said...

Yum, I love beet kvass!

Je Choe said...

Hi Alex,
please excuse my novice question, but, what is beet kvass supposed to TASTE like?

My last attempt to make kvass left me (after a few days fermentation on the countertop) with a kind of salty, beety water. I guess I was expecting something punchier similar to pickle/kraut brine or even kombucha? Is viscosity desired?

Is this salty beet water, kvass?

Alex Lewin said...

Hi Je, thanks for posting.

I would say that no, viscosity is not desired, at least for me.

A few days is the bare minimum. If it was fizzy, then it was starting to ferment. As time goes on, it should get more sour, and the sourness should mask some of the saltiness.

The timing is dependent on ambient temperature and various other factors.

If you want it more sour/interesting/weird, then let it ferment for longer!

Hope this helps.