Beet Kvass is a traditionally fermented tonic that originated in Russian and Ukrainian cultures dating back to the Middle Ages.
Beets are loaded with nutrients, serve as an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments. After the holidays full of indulging foods and drinks I especially need beet kvass for its ability to help cleanses the liver.
Trial & Errors
My first attempt this year was with scarlet beets but I was disappointed to find dry mold ( not the typical white scaley stuff that is actually safe) but dry fuzzy stuff that is not safe ( often with blue or green colors in the center and appear to be spores). It also did not produce the typical color or sweet earthy smell of traditional beet kvass. So, I tossed the batch and decided to go traditional. I used beautiful deep purple beets and was rewarded with beautiful beet kvass. It took much longer than the typical 1 1/2 weeks that most recipes call for. It is winter but here on the central coast of California, it is not terribly cold. It took about three weeks to produce a deep color and bubbly effervescent tonic. I used a bit too much salt but wanted insurance that mold would not develop. Salt inhibits the growth of bacteria. I used an airlock system to allow outflow of gases or liquid if necessary but unlike traditional sauerkraut, there was not excess liquid that needed to be released. I bottled mine in mason jars with plastic lids. They are stored in my refrigerator. I generally take a shot each morning and each evening. The saltiness was a little strong but not unpleasant. The sweet earthiness really holds up to the salt. Salt is not a concern, especially if you do not eat much processed foods (full of salt) and use kosher or Himalayan pink sea salt. Salt is not the enemy and actually works as electrolytes to absorb water into our bodies’ cells. You can drink water till the cows come home but without proper electrolytes you will not absorb the essential water that your cells thrive on. I will write about the importance of hydration soon!
You will need:
Fresh Filtered Water
You can peel the beets or scrub the beets well and remove the long root base. Divide the beets into fourths. Place beets in a clean glass jar. I did not include how many beets because you can ferment as many as you like in any jar size. You want the beets to come 3/4 the way up whatever glass vessel you choose to use. You will need to use a salt of your choice, anything except table salt that has iodine added to it. I will discuss that more when I speak about hydration. The ratio I would use to inhibit bacterial growth and hopefully allow your beets to ferment properly is 1 tablespoon salt per quart of water. The salt should be properly dissolved in the water. You can warm just a little water and dissolve the salt and add in fresh cold water or you can warm all the water and add in the salt and wait for the water to come back to room temperature before adding it to the beets. Leave an inch head space in any vessel you choose to use. I used an airlock but it is not necessary. Leave your beets in a dry, cool, dark space for 1 1/2 weeks. This 1 1/2 week mark pretty standard across all recipes but it will completely depend on the temperature of your home or climate. It could go faster or take much longer as mine did, three weeks. You will see the water turn a deep vibrant purple, you will see bubbles gather around the edges of the beets and release to the top of the brine. Feel free to taste as it goes along. If you see slightly white spots appear on the surface of your brine you can use a spoon and scoop them out. If you see mold fuzzy white, green, and or blue stuff toss the batch and increase the salt for your next batch. Also, make sure your glass vessels are very clean! Bottle and place in the refrigerator when you are finished. Many recipes call for adding whey or ferment juice from another ferment. You can do that but I have found that organic vegetables usually ferment easily. I may suggest using ferment juice from sauerkraut or other vegetable ferments verses whey. I have had better results but many rave about adding whey.
As with adding any new fermented food or beverage to your diet go slow. Start with half a shot twice a day and work your way up to 4 ounces twice a day. WARNING: you may see bright red or pink urine and this is totally normal and there is nothing wrong with your health.