ABOUT BEET KVASS
By Nicola Kafula
Kraut & Krunch
Beet kvass has a long history among the Russian people. It has been consumed by members of all ranks of society in Russia and the Ukraine for more than a thousand years and is widely considered to be a safer beverage than water. While many ancient cultures solved the issue of contaminated water sources by turning it into alcoholic drinks such as wine or beer, the people of the North instead created a lacto-fermented infusion with amazing health properties.
Traditionally, kvass is made from stale, sourdough-rye bread. This produces a drink with a taste similar to beer—minus the alcohol content. 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 fibre. Their high folic acid and folate content likewise makes them ideal for pregnant women and those wishing to fall pregnant.
As with any other fruit or vegetable, the process of lacto-fermentation only increases the nutritional benefits of beets. 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 beets remain raw throughout the lacto-fermentation process is an added advantage. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, beet kvass is considered to be a liver and blood tonic. 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. In addition, it has 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.
At its most basic, kvass requires only three things: beets, water, and salt. The salt and water create a brine in which the beets ferment. By the end of the process this brine has become kvass, saturated by the beet juice and sometimes slightly effervescent from the fermentation action.