Beet kvass, a traditional Ukrainian beverage, is a wonderful, easy-to-make fermented drink that is excellent for digestion and a great chance to get extra plant phytonutrients into your diet. Consuming lacto-fermented beverages is an terrific way to improve gut health by introducing good bacteria, enzymes and lactic acid. This tasty, hydrating drink helps promotes regularity and thereby aids the body in cleansing itself of toxins. Rather than buying expensive probiotic pills (although these do have their place), filling your diet with fermented foods, like sauerkraut and beet kvass, is an affordable way to help bring the body back into balance. The real food cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, recommends having a half a cup in the morning and evening.
This beet kvass recipe calls for liquid whey, which you can easily make using the recipe bellow. Please note that liquid whey is a completely different product than powdered whey protein, which is a highly processed product that you’d be wise to avoid. When making your own whey, use only raw, unpasteurized whole milk from a trusted source. Absolutely do not sure pasteurized milk as this is devoid of the natural bacteria that allows raw milk to clabber safely.
It’s important to purchase organic beets or beets from a trusted farmer that isn’t selling genetically modified beets or using pesticides. The demand for beet sugar has led to the prevalence of genetically modified beets.
Homemade Beet Kvass
3 medium organic beets
1/2 gallon spring water
1 tbsp sea salt
1/4 cup liquid whey (to make your own follow the recipe below)
1/2 gallon jar, a paper towel and an elastic band
Wash the beets and chop them into roughly 1/2 inch cubes, no need to peel them but do not grate them. Place these into a 1/2 gallon jar. Add the whey and salt and then fill with spring water. The act of pouring in the water should naturally stir the ingredients but use a spoon to stir if needed. Leave about one inch of space before the top of the jar. Cover with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Leave on the counter out of direct sunlight for about five days or up to one week. Use a spoon to remove the layer of film that develops on top of the liquid and don’t be alarmed unless you see any black mold, in which case you should throw the batch away. Strain the liquid out using a mesh strainer. Bottle this beautiful purple-pink liquid and compost the beets. You can put the bottled beet kvass directly into the fridge or leave the bottles out on the counter to continue fermenting for another couple days to create effervescence.
How to Make Homemade Whey
1 quart (1/4 gallon) or more raw, whole milk
thin kitchen towel (or mesh strainer will work)
2 large bowls
Place milk in a glass bowl and leave out on the counter with a towel placed over the top to keep out any critters. Let this sit for one to three days, until the milk has become gelatinous and yogurt-like in consistency. Next lay a fine-weave tea towel over a large bowl and pour the mixture in. Gather the ends of the towel and secure with a rubber band and suspend this over a bowl. You can attach the elastic band to a kitchen cabinet knob, for example, or if your cabinets have handles, use a key ring to hook the elastic band to the handle. The whey will drip through the towel into the bowl. After a couple of hours what is left in the towel is raw cream cheese (or if you allowed the milk to clabber for a longer period it may be more the consistency of cottage cheese) and the liquid that dripped into the bowl is your homemade liquid whey.