WHAT IS KVASS?

This wondrous drink has a long history among the Russian people. It has been consumed by members of all ranks of society in Russia and Ukraine for more than a thousand years and is widely considered to be a safer beverage than water so they turned it into alcoholic drinks such as wine or beer. The people of the North instead created a lacto-fermented infusion with miraculous health properties. In addition to quenching one’s thirst, kvass is known to aid digestion, prevent hangovers, and even protect against infectious diseases.

 

Traditionally, kvass is made from stale, sourdough-rye bread. This produces a drink with a taste similar to beer—minus the alcohol content—and with all the health properties listed above. But for those of us who have been forced, by allergies or auto-immune diseases, to eliminate grains and alcohol from our diet all is not lost. While rye-bread kvass is certainly the most well known, it is not the only variety available to us. Indeed, Russians have been known to create kvass with all manner of ingredients: from currants and raspberries to lemons and cherries. The most common and perhaps most beneficial alternative, however, is beets. Beets are an amazing super-food with an extensive nutritional arsenal. They are an excellent source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamins A and C, niacin, and fiber. Their high folic acid and folate content likewise makes them ideal for pregnant women and those who hope to become pregnant.

As with any other fruit or vegetable, the process of lacto-fermentation only increases the nutritional benefits of beets, fruits, or whatever you decide to use. This traditional method of preservation adds probiotics and allows the nutrients to be more easily absorbed by your body. Since prolonged cooking often destroys, or greatly diminishes, the nutritional content of foods, the fact that your raw beets or fruits remain raw throughout the lacto-fermentation process is an added advantage. So, you can imagine what this little medicinal powerhouse is being turned into as it sits there calmly bubbling away in your cupboard.

In addition to the pregnancy perks mentioned above, the liver and blood cleansing properties of beet kvass have been known to help prevent morning sickness. Likewise, the crucial role that so many of the beet’s nutrients play in proper cellular function has led to beet kvass being used throughout Europe in the treatment of cancer. All lacto-fermented products gently chelate the body, flushing out heavy metals and toxins, and kvass is no exception. Anecdotal evidence provided by converts to the beet-kvass craze report the beverage as being an excellent remedy for heartburn, chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies, kidney stones, and digestive problems. It is also believed to alkalize the blood and improve regularity.

For those who are more cosmetically driven, it has actually been reported to diminish age spots. Some have even claimed that after adding beet kvass to their diet, their thinning hair grew back thicker and gray hairs turned darker.
In its most basic recipe, kvass requires only three things: beets, water, and salt. The salt and water create a brine in which the beets pickle. By the end of the process this brine has become kvass, saturated by the beet juice and slightly effervescent from the fermentation action. As with anything, the quality of the ingredients will determine the quality of the final product. I thought it would be fun to introduce you to Fruit Kvass…check it out.

Dirty Dozen Recipe

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