How to Make Beet Kvass

How to Make Beet Kvass and why How to Make Beet Kvass

I must admit that when I first got the book Nourishing Traditions, Beet Kvass was one of the recipes that I glazed over and didn’t plan on making. I wasn’t a huge fan of beets and I didn’t even know what kvass  was, so I steered clear.

When I finally tried Kvass, the taste wasn’t as bad as I expected and the health benefits were more than I expected. I’m a big fan of fermented foods like sauerkraut and fermented drinks like kombucha and water kefir. Beet Kvass is a nice mix of the two…

Kvass is salty and earthy tasting and after a day or two adjustment, I found that I really like it and my body is now craving it.

What is Kvass?

Kvass is a traditional eastern European beverage that was originally made from fermenting stale bread. According to this article:

“It is also recognized that kvass is safer to drink than water. Tolstoy describes how Russian soldiers took a ladle full of kvass before venturing from their barracks onto the Moscow streets during a cholera epidemic. Because kvass protects against infectious disease, there is no worry about sharing the glass.”

“Kvass can also be made from beets. The result is not so much epicurean as medicinal, although beet kvass is often added to borscht. No traditional Ukranian home was without its bottle of beet kvass, according to Lubow A. Kylvska, author of Ukranian Dishes, “handy and ready when a pleasing, sour flavor had to be added to soups and vinaigrettes.”

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.”

Nourishing Traditions explains the Beet Kvass is:

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

My kids love Kvass because of the color and it makes a beautiful addition to salad dressings, sauces or soups because of its bright hue.

I’ve found it easiest to make Kvass with whey (here is how to make whey at home- not the same as protein powder!) or the juice from sauerkraut, but it can be made with just sea salt, though it may take a little longer.

4.2 from 5 reviews
How to Make Beet Kvass
 
Prep time
Total time
 
An inexpensive health tonic of fermented beet juice that is a healthy, salty and earthy health booster!
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Cuisine: Eastern European
Serves: 6+
Ingredients
  • 2-4 beets
  • ¼ cup whey or juice from sauerkraut (here's how to make whey)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt or himalayan salt
  • filtered water
  • half gallon glass jar
Instructions
  1. Wash beets and peel (if not organic) or leave skin on (if organic)
  2. Chop beet in to small cubes but don't grate.
  3. Place beets in bottom of half gallon jar.
  4. Add whey/sauerkraut juice and salt (If you don't want to use whey or sauerkraut juice, you can double the salt instead, though it may take longer to ferment)
  5. Fill jar with filtered water.
  6. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and leave on the counter at room temperature for 2 days to ferment.
  7. Transfer to fridge.
  8. Consume as desired. I drink 3-4 ounces each morning and night.

Have you ever made beet Kvass? What did you think of it?

Reader Comments

  1. Amy DeLano says

    Yay, another use for the gobs of whey I always end up with after making yogurt! I have always wanted to do something with beets, too, but have a harder time finding recipes for them. This is the perfect excuse to get some from the farmer’s market since they are in season now. I’ll make some this weekend and let you know how it goes. (^_^)

    • Nathan Brammeier says

      Yes, after adding all the ingredients, fill the jar with purified water. Then cover.

      Nourishing Traditions is, by far, the best cookbook/nutrition book available!!

  2. Miranda says

    I made beet kvass for the first time last summer. I am still a beginner in the fermented foods department and had a very hard time swallowing it. Maybe I ought to try it again – I love all the health benefits of it!

  3. Jessica says

    I’m curious about the liver cleansing properties of this. While I don’t like the smell of beets (they smell like dirt to me), I could probably choke down a glass of this in the morning to replace the (expensive) liver cleansing supplement my naturopath has me on.
    Anyone have direct experience??

  4. Isabel Grimer says

    Can the beet kvass be considered a probiotic?

    Another good thing to do with beet after it is boiled, to slice it and dehydrate it. It tastes a bit like chocolate! Good for replacing potato chips and keep for a very long time.

  5. Kathy Ramirez says

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this recipe!!! I have been wanting so badly to join the fermented food party but can’t seem to make myself swallow sauerkraut or anything else you’ve talked about, But guess what, I LOVE beets!! Thank you for your amazing blog! You inspire me everyday :)

  6. Kamila Jelonek says

    Yes kvass has got a very long tradition in eastern Europe and I would like to share my family’s delicious recipe.
    5-7 beets ( medium sized )
    2- 3 L ceramic jar or pot (the old fashioned one our grandmas used to use) don’t ask me why I just know it makes a wonderful kvass.
    Boiled salted water ( enough so it covers the beets and fills the jar to the top )
    Garlic and lots of it
    Ok so first boil the water and add salt ( I’d say 2 spoons ) set aside to cool down – you want your water to be at room temperature
    Peel the beets and cut into big pieces
    Peel the garlic
    Place your beets and garlic tightly in the jar and then pour the cooled water on top and cover with the plate. If the plate goes up cause your beets are floating don’t worry just place a small stone on top. Afterwards place the jar preferably on top of your kitchen cupboards ( gets sour quicker because hot air goes up so it is warmer there ) . If a little mould develops on top that’s perfectly fine just remove it with a spoon. When your kvass is ready you can strain it into a bottle and put in the fridge it will keep for 5-7 days. With this way you will need to be a bit more patient it might take between 5-7 days or more, but believe me it is worth it.

  7. Glynis Knapp says

    What size beets should be used? The weight would be ideal to have if you could let us have it please xx

  8. Melissa Aman Wallace says

    Can you do anything with the beets in the jar after the kvass has been made? Can it be eaten or only added to compost?

  9. Cindi Cypert Freshour says

    These things never say how you know if yours is ready to use. it wouldn'[t be so intimidating to try at forst if you had some kind of picture of how it should look when it is ready to use.

  10. Elizabeth says

    Hello Katie, I tried the recipe and just loved the result. I probably drank a full bottle over a 1-day period and really think the medicinal properties of the beet worked wonders for both my bowels and energy level. I have to be careful to drink the second bottle in moderation as I can easily become addicted to the drink and replace with my daily intake of water!!

    I found a recipe for a sweet potato fermented drink, at the link below, if you are interested in trying it. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I’ve started the process and only at Day 1 in the fermentation process. I had a taste of the liquid today and do find it a bit sweet for my liking, after enjoying the slightly salty taste of the beet kvass, but this is personal preference only, as I generally prefer salt over sweet. Depending on the outcome when I bottle on Wednesday, I probably can adjust the sugar content.

    I’ll let you know how it turns out. I find the most challenging part is finding a warm place for the container. I tried periodically heating up the oven on the lowest temperature and moving the container to the oven, but I could not possibly do this over a 3-day period. We’ve having a relatively cool spell now in Toronto, Canada, so it’s hard to find any warm spots at the moment.
    Cheers,
    Elizabeth

  11. Elizabeth says

    Hello Katie, I wrote a lovely note earlier telling of my experience making beet kvass. But it appears not to have been posted. Perhaps it got lost? t’s pretty hard to re-write the note with the same enthusiasm, but I’ll try. I loved the drink a LOT and went through a 450 ml bottle on Saturday. It did wonders for my energy level and I think my digestive system also loved it. I have a bias for savoury over sweet, so it didn’t take me much effort to get used to the slightly salted beet taste. I’ll have to go easy on my 2nd bottle and drink in moderation. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. This is definitely one that I’ll be making on a regular basis.

    I discovered another recipe for a sweet potato fermented drink and have prepared and will strain and bottle on Wedneday (day 3). I’ll let you know how I like this drink. It’s another easy one with grated sweet potatoes and spices. Here is the link in case you are interested in trying it.

    I continue to enjoy and look forward to reading and sharing your blog.

    http://creatingnirvanatoday.blogspot.ca/2011/06/sweet-potato-fly-fermented-sweet-potato.html

    Elizabeth

  12. Beverly says

    Is the beet kvass supposed to have a scum on top? Mine does after 3 or 4 days. Should I just throw it out and start again?

  13. Rana says

    Is it OK if I used too much whey and a little too much salt? I used 4 medium sized beets, a half gallon jar, 1 1/4 tablespoons of sea salt, and 1/2 cup of whey instead of 1/4. I hope it still works, I’m so bummed out that I’ve been waiting to make this all week and I accidentally put twice as much whey as directed! Thanks in advance for your reply.

  14. Elizabeth says

    Hi I just wanted to answer a few questions that I’ve seen posted. Please note, these answers are based on about 10 other blogs with comments I’ve read researching this.
    Add more salt if you don’t want to use whey, about 1 1/2 – 2 tbs.
    Some people put a tight lid on others don’t. A lady from the Ukraine who’s family had made this since….a long time, said they just cover with cheese cloth and rubber bands.
    It is normal for it to be fizzy. I haven’t figured out if that’s from when there is a tight lid versus lose.
    Mold on the top is normal. Just scrap it off with a spoon. it’s part of the process.
    You can use any type of beets.
    If you use whey the fermenting process is shorter, if only using salt it’s about 10-14 days.
    I hope this helps and I can’t wait to try mine.

    • Taylor says

      Its fizzy because the bacteria is eating the sugar and releasing carbon dioxide. Similar to beer and Kombucha. If it is fizzy then there is a lot of sugar that has been eaten. Maybe from a tight lid or a membrane unable to release the CO2. Its the process of fermentation. If there is no fiz then either the yeast or good bacteria is done eating or was killed by contaminants.

  15. Paul Fassa says

    I am in the process of making beet kvass. Tomorrow it will be ready for harvesting but I noticed some white spots on the surface (mold?). I hope my kvass isn’t ruined?

    Char

  16. Meg says

    Can I leave cheese cloth on top or should i seal it with a glass lid? I am using a glass pitcher rather than a ball jar. should i transfer? Also, I had some at a friends and mine is less tangy…more like salty beet juice. Does it “cure” more in fridge?

    • Larry Canary says

      You can use the same beets 2-3 times, but each will be a little less strong. I read one guy who claimed to make 7 batches! He let’s each successive batch sit a little longer to compensate.

  17. Jane Font says

    I’m going to try this today, but I’m a little worried I’ll be grossed out by the flavor, although I’m sure I can find other uses for it rather than drinking it straight. Is there anything you would recommend I could add to make the taste a little sweeter? I was wondering about throwing in a couple slices of apple. I’m going to make this batch the way you have it here, but I might want to add something next time.

    Also, I’m new to your blog and I’m making several of your recipes! Thank you!

  18. Luli says

    Im making it for the first time now¡ its in the jar already and covered. Im reading through the comments, the recipe says that after 2 days it should be put into the fridge, but i read on the comments that it might take 10 days? I did mine with sea salt. Also what if i see mold or bubbles? Is that normal? How do you know you if you messed it up? Lol. Thankyou and greetings from Mexico!

  19. Jamie Campbell says

    I’ve tried doing beet kvass twice now, didn’t work out either time. The first time was an “extra salt” approach, the second time I used 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice from a health food sauerkraut that describes itself as raw. In a week or two I’m going to make a third attempt using sauerkraut juice from my *own* sauerkraut so that I’ll *know* that it’s for sure raw and alive. Wish me luck :)

    • Luli says

      Hi! I have my first one going and tried it yesterday and was too salty for my taste, also im knda scared of salt bfore my period which is coming soon, i think i will drink it in small doses and see what happens, or maybe i can add more water to every glass i drink? Its fun to try this recipe!

          • Jamie Campbell says

            using sauerkraut juice may make it less salty.. the recipe I use for making sauerkraut is four teaspoons of salt per two heads of cabbage inclusive of enough liquid to cover them. A 1/4 cup of juice from that should be a fair amount less than a full extra tablespoon as the recipe recommends if you’re taking an extra salt only approach

          • Luli says

            Great, i will try that next time, thank you so much¡ im noticing that as someone mentioned, the salty part is mellowing down, i think we might be able to drink it by the end of this week ¡ :)

    • Jamie Campbell says

      Using juice from my own homemade sauerkraut worked great! I did another batch using the same beets and using a cup of kvass from the first batch as the accelerator. That batch worked out too, although it was weaker (which makes sense, since the beets were already used for the first batch and so presumably had less to “give”). I’ve got another batch going now again using kvass from the first batch (I don’t want to use second-batch kvass as an accelerator since tasting weaker probably also means it’s not as good of an accelerator). I have high hopes to be able to keep the cycle going purely on prior-batch kvass.

      On a side note, it’s tasty stuff. I’m not sure why some people find it hard to drink — it’s delightfully lemony (despite not using any lemons) and refreshing.

    • David says

      Yes. Salt prevents bad bacteria from growing in a ferment during the initial stage of fermentation where the oxygen is used up and the lactic acid bacteria (LABs) begin to reproduce. Since fermentation always occurs in the same pattern no matter what you’re fermenting, you need the salt to keep the bad guys at bay until the LABs kick in and start growing like crazy.

      The correct salt concentration will actually encourage LABs to grow, giving them a competitive edge. Too little salt gives the bad guys an edge, which can lead to spoilage, especially if your container isn’t airtight.

      However, you can have ‘too much of a good thing.’ If you add too much salt, it will also cripple or kill off the lactic acid bacteria. Plainly put, if you make it too salty, nothing will live, even the good guys. If you don’t get it so salty that it kills all of the microbes off, certain yeasts can live, also leading to spoilage.

      • Karri Smith says

        I fermented by kvass for 2 days before I realized that I had forgotten the salt! I tasted it and it was just bland, no obvious signs of “bad bacteria”, at least as far as taste buds are concerned. I belatedly added salt, but now my question is – should I take it out of the fridge and let it ferment a bit more?

  20. Gonzales says

    Greetings, I am a high school culinary student out in Az. Just to get it out of the way, I LOVE beets, and i nearly fell off my chair when i found a beet drink. I am having a bit of confusion over the use of the whey and sauerkraut starters, since beets dont go too great with cabbage-sour and cheese-sour flavors (at least to my taste). Could it be possible to make a sweeter version with your ginger bug recipe?

  21. wendy says

    I have my first batch now brewing. I only had about 1/8 cup of whey when I began, so I used what I had and then added more the next day when my homemade yogurt had produced more – I hope that’s OK? Also the beets have white on top of them, even though I’ve stirred it a few times. I don’t know if this is undissolved salt, or some yogurt solids that snuck in with the whey or what, but I also hope this is normal. Finally since I began with less whey than the recipe called for how do I know when my batch is ready to drink? Right now it is the same color as your picture but more cloudy looking. Thanks!

  22. Linda S says

    Just made my first batch of kvass after doing a fermented foods class last weekend. As I’m starting from scratch, I used the salt only method. My sauerkraut will be ready tomorrow. Yay! Love the deep earthiness and also the salt. I left mine for 5 days on top of our gas stove (warmed by pilot light) and it was perfect. My teacher Jaqueline, recommended to use the beets again to make another batch, and then to toss in coconut oil and roast them. Yum!

  23. Tiffani says

    I ferment for 2 weeks on the counter – it is a thick, rich and delightful ferment! I prefer it stronger and funny enough, everyone I serve it to likes it better than the quick ferments too. Try a longer ferment and see what you think. Yes you will need to scrape/peel mold layer off, but that doesn’t affect the taste unless you let the mold layer get really thick.

  24. Tamlyn says

    Hello Katie
    So grateful for having found you! You have changed our lives around.

    Would like to know how long the Beet kvass can be kept in the fridge for once it has fermented.

  25. David says

    Great recipe! I make kvass all the time, however the only suggestion would be a longer ferment time since two days seems a bit short for all the goodness to happen. I might suggest at a minimum of four days to a week, and longer if in cooler room temps. Enjoy!

  26. Mer says

    After watching the Thyroid sessions and hearing mention of this, I’m glad to have a recipe! As far as probiotic use goes, could you combine a shot of this with a shot of kombucha for a little fizzy drink?

  27. Eli says

    My question for this drink, as well as the homemade lemonade is, do you have to make whey for every single batch of drink you made? Or is this like kombucha and water kefir, where you have a bug that you can transfer? Thanks!

  28. Chan says

    Thanks for your blog! I’m new to fermentation. I wonder if you or anyone else have tried using water kefir grain or komucha or milk kefir grain to ferment the beet? If so, how did it turn out? And, your recipe please. Thank you!

  29. Amie says

    I am dairy free so I can’t do whey and I’d prefer less salt. Could I use some kefir water to kick start the fermentation process instead? Has anyone tried it?

  30. Happa says

    Thanks for the instruction. Does it only take 2 days to ferment? Is 2 days at any particular temperature, like around 75 degrees, which isn’t possible until you have air conditioning? For example, in the summer with average room temperature ~80-85, should that be even shorter?

  31. Cyril says

    Could you juice the beets mix in water, fresh ginger juice, ginger bug, lemon and suger to make Ginger beets beer?

  32. Rein says

    I use the leftover beetroot to make this delicious dip: blend the beetroot chunks, microwave the blended pulp to cook it, add ground cumin and salt, pepper; add plain yoghurt and a swirl of sour cream for richness …… so yummy!

  33. jake says

    Can you use the same culture that you use for 3-day sauerkraut to speed up the beet fermentation process?

  34. suzanne says

    i’ve been making the reciope with saurkraut juice (actually this batch i used fermented cortido so it had some kick! yum)but always get alot of mold on top. I also like to let it go for 5-7 days. It seems challenging to get the mold off the top, any suggestions? Also do you fill it to the top with water, ie no room for air?
    thanks

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