Fermentation is the best friend of a strong immune system and a great way to keep your digestive system in good health [source]. Kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir are probably the fermented foods you’re already familiar with. Today I introduce you to a new word, one with a huge personality: kvass.
Coming from an Eastern European country, I grew up with sour soups and fermented foods. In this part of the world, winters are harsh, and people need a very strong immune system to face them. That’s why fermentation has a long tradition over here [source].
What is kvass?
Kvass is a very popular drink in Slavic and Baltic countries, where you can buy it at the supermarket or order a homemade version in any traditional restaurant. The name literally means “fermented drink” in Slavic languages.
It is originally made with rye bread as a fermentation starter. Kvass is a non-alcoholic drink with a combination of tangy-yet-sweet taste, a valuable nutrient load, and medicinal qualities, which makes everybody crazy about consuming it.
What are the benefits of kvass?
Magnesium, phosphorus, amino acids, vitamins C and B, including the very rare B12, are all found naturally in this delicious fermented drink. It is traditionally fermented using rye or barley bread, but sometimes people use a starter such as whey or yeast to accelerate the fermentation process.
Consuming a variety of fermented foods helps you get all the health benefits of bacteria and keeps your colonies refreshed and varied [source]. This is why I always like to experiment with any new fermented food I learn about, and kvass is definitely a must-try.
As Hippocrates said, all disease begins in the gut [source], so we should take good care of these colonies. Excess antibiotics, refined sugars, processed food, or too much starch diminishes the good bacteria colonies and can result in weight gain, a poor immune system, poor nutrient absorption, vitamin deficiency, or allergies [source].
Is kvass considered alcoholic?
The alcohol content in kvass is usually between 0.5–1%, so this probiotic drink is considered non-alcoholic. The more it sits in the refrigerator, the more alcohol-containing it becomes, but you can still consume it as a non-alcoholic beverage. However, if you are pregnant, it is recommended to avoid drinking kvass.
What does kvass taste like?
Kvass is a very popular drink in Russia and Ukraine, and this is mostly because of its delicious taste. The flavor depends on which ingredients you choose for fermenting your kvass, but the taste is tangy and slightly sweet, reminiscent of a non-alcoholic beer.
Orange Ginger Carrot Kvass
- Half-gallon jar with lid
- Mesh strainer
- 6 carrots, sliced into approximately 1/8-inch coins
- 2 tablespoons ginger, roughly chopped
- 6 large strips of organic orange peel, peeled with a vegetable peeler
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (4 teaspoons if omitting whey)
- ¼ cup whey (optional)
- Water as needed
- Put carrots, ginger, and orange peel into a half-gallon jar.
- Add salt and whey and fill the remainder of the jar with water, leaving a 1-inch headspace.
- Cover tightly with a lid, and shake well to dissolve the salt in the whey and water.
- Remove canning lid and cover with a clean towel or coffee filter.
- Secure with a rubber band or canning ring.
- Place in a warm spot to ferment for 2 to 4 days, depending on temperature.
- Strain the liquid from the carrots, leaving about 1 cup of liquid in the jar for another round of kvass.
- 2–3 beets depending on size
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tsp active dried yeast or 1/4 cup whey
- 2 quarts filtered water
PREP THE INGREDIENTS
- Peel and chop beets into ½-inch pieces and place in a half-gallon jar.
- Add salt, whey/yeast, and fill the jar with water, leaving 1 inch of space between the beets and the top of the jar. Cover the jar with a tight lid.
CULTURE THE BEETS
- Store the beets at room temperature (60–70°F is preferred) until the desired flavor and texture are achieved (about 2–5 days).
- If using a tight lid, slightly unscrew the lid daily to release excess pressure (do not remove the lid completely).
- Once the kvass is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to the refrigerator.
- The kvass flavor will continue to develop as it ages.
- When the liquid in the kvass is close to empty, refill the jar and culture at room temperature again for a second, weaker batch.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.126
Kvass is super easy and a no brainier to make for a simple probiotic drink….fruit/vegetable plus sugar, salt(use sparingly, 1/2 tsp per quart of kvass, maximum, use none if you use a starter such as liquid whey) and water plus a minimum amount of time to ferment. Collect liquid whey by lining a small funnel with a fine cheese cloth, fill with plain nonfat real, natural yogurt…let strain(drip) into a Mason jar overnight on the counter top, then strain through a coffee filter into a clean storage jar and place into the fridge until needed. Whey should be a clear yellowish colour. Use the whey to make all your fermented probiotic drinks and foods (¼ cup per 2 quarts of fermented drink or foods)
Lady Montagu says
Hi, I just made my first batch of Orange Ginger Carrot Kvass und quite like it. The taste is very sour (I let it ferment on the countertop for a week). However, it doesn´t have the pretty orange colour like in your pictures? Questions: 1, Did I do something wrong? 2, Would it be ok to dilute the kvass with organic orange juice to make it less salty and more palatable?
Many thanks in advance!
Hi, I made the carrot/Ginger version a few days ago and as I did not have whey I added more salt. I tasted it after 3 days and it is so salty, I don’t think I could drink that… is it normal? will the saltiness soften a bit if I leave it a few more days?
(it smells amazing though!!) thank you!
Erin I. says
These sound amazing! Any suggested products or tips for shopping for whey? A lot of what I’m seeing are workout-geared brands, or variations such as whey concentrate and whey isolate. I’ve never used whey before so this newbie needs help!! Thanks!!
Ana, I also really enjoyed your recent post on buckwheat :) My husband and I lived in Ukraine for a few years, so there was lots of buckwheat and kvass around. I’ve never imagined kvass could be so colorful- can’t wait to try these recipes out!
Michelle Jones says
Oh my, the pics are incredible! I love the decoration. So many nice ideas that I can adapt for my tablescape. You make it look so easy! I’ll definitely try some of them on our next family gathering. Thank you for the post!
Helen Green says
Hi Ana! Thank you for posting the recipes, I love fermented drinks but I never tried anything like this before, and really have never heard of it. I’ll try the orange with ginger and carrots tomorrow, because I already have the ingredients here, and on the weekend I’ll try the beet one. Thank you again!!