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Beet kvass is a fermented vegetable tonic, made with beets and other veg which are “steeped” in a brine for a few weeks. This recipe includes onion and cabbage for extra veggie goodness. But you can certainly make it with simply beets, salt and water. I’ve played around with adding scallions, ginger, and turmeric.
You can also do a secondary fermentation with the finished kvass, to add more flavor and carbonation. Just be careful– beets contain a lot of sugar, and the bottles can build up pressure (and explode!)
- 1 to 2 medium beets (about 1 lb./500g), topped, any variety
- 1 cup/200 ml (about 2-3 oz. by weight) cabbage, cut into 1"/2cm pieces
- ¼ medium onion, any variety, 4 scallions, OR 1 medium leek, halved
- 50g ginger (about a 3-inch piece), thinly sliced
- 3 cups/ 750ml filtered water
- 2 teaspoons/12ml by vol, 15g by weight fine sea salt; (2% brine by weight)
- 2 Tbsp/25 ml pickle brine, sauerkraut juice or kombucha (optional)
- Chop cabbage into 1" pieces and add to a clean quart-sized (or larger) glass jar or other fermentation vessel.
- Peel onion and chop in to 4 quarters. Add to jar/vessel.
- Remove beet tops (greens), then wash and peel beets. If using organic beets, you can leave the skins on for a more "earthy" flavor.
- Chop beets in to ½"/ 1cm cubes or slices. Add beets to jar/vessel (add them LAST if using other ingredients-- they are the heaviest and will weigh down the lighter veggies.)
- Make brine (it's a 2% brine by weight): In a separate container, add salt to water and stir until salt dissolved.
- Add sauerkraut or pickle juice to "backslop".
- Slowly fill the jar with brine.
- If using jar, cover with a tea towel and place a rubber band around jar (to keep out flies and dust).
- If using fermentation airlock device, follow instructions to secure/tighten it.
- Ferment in a cool dark place (out of direct sunlight) for 14 days.
- After 14 days, strain juice into another container. Now you can do a secondary fermentation if you like to add more complex flavors. You can also use the beets for another purpose such as vegetable stock or a second run (see below).
- Strain liquid into a glass bottle that has a tight-fitting lid (swing-top bottle or recycled mineral water bottle with a metal cap).
- Add other sweet flavors like fresh fruit juice to balance the salty and sour kvass notes. Use 2 fluid ounces fresh juice per quart/liter of kvass.
- Tighten cap and ferment at room temperature 1-3 days.
- "Burp" the bottle daily to ensure that pressure will not build up to dangerous levels.
- Transfer to refrigerator when you like the taste and carbonation levels.
- Store kvass and veggies in refrigerator.
- You can use the same veggies for a second "run" of kvass. Mix more brine and pour it over the veggies, and ferment again for the same time, or even longer (2-3 weeks). It won't be as strong as the first run, but will still be delicious.