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Raspberry Beet Kvass is easy to make, high in nutrition from the “super-food” beets and full of probiotics. Suitable for most real-food, ancestral diets, beet kvass is naturally gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo, GAPS, AIP, Whole30 and even Keto & Low Carb.
What is beet kvass?
Beet kvass first originated in the Ukraine over 1,000 years ago. Kvass continues its popularity today throughout the Ukraine and Russia, as well as globally.
Made with beets, water and a source of probiotics, kvass is a healthful beverage that’s hydrating, refreshing and rich in flavor.
Historically, peasants and czars alike made kvass with stale sourdough bread or beets. Many popular additions included: raisins, mint, berries, cherries and pears.
Why is beet kvass healthy?
Today, most kvass recipes are made with beets, not bread. Beet kvass is naturally gluten and grain-free.
Beets are high in antioxidants. Beet kvass contains over 1300 milligrams of potassium per cup! This antioxidant-rich beverage helps to fight free radical damage — aiding the body at a cellular level.
Like beets, beet kvass naturally cleanses the gallbladder, improves bile flow and removes toxins. Beets and beet kvass promote regular bowel movements.
Additionally, many sources discuss kvass as a blood tonic. Meaning, the phytonutrients in beet kvass help to balance the pH levels in our blood. (The betalains in beets help to create more red blood cells, which in turn helps to alkalize our blood and reduce inflammation.)
Beets’ and beet kvass’s anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce the risk of cancer.
Kvass can also be high in Vitamin C, folate and manganese.
Raspberries in Raspberry Beet Kvass
Traditionally, Celtic sea salt makes beet kvass a savory beverage that is also rich with the salt’s minerals.
I like to make a slightly sweet version of kvass with raspberries. Most people don’t have the palate (these days) to enjoy a salty vegetable drink daily.
But a fruity version of this classic makes kvass simply delicious and hard to resist … making this a beverage you’ll want to make again and again. (My kids actually love it.)
The addition of raspberries is indeed historical and makes kvass broadly enjoyable. Most children and adults will love how refreshing Raspberry Beet Kvass is! Incredibly so — due to the electrolytes and wonderful flavors!
If you love ferments, refreshing beverages and trying new foods, you won’t be able to resist tart and sweet Raspberry Beet Kvass.
You can certainly play, too, with adding additional sea salt to this recipe — if you like sweet and salty together. You can also omit the sweetener altogether. Historically, fruit and sea salt would have been added, but no sweetener.
Personally, I like to add a small amount of sweetener because it heightens the flavors and makes the drink more delicious, satisfying and irresistible.
Electrolytes in kvass
Fermentation adds sodium and potassium to the nutritional profile of the kvass, a necessary component for proper rehydration.
Lacto-fermentation means that we use whey to inoculate this ferment. I also provide dairy-free options in the recipe (below) for AIP and other dairy-free needs.
Because of the electrolytes in and fruity flavor of Raspberry Beet Kvass, I find it to be the most thirst-quenching beverage possible — more satisfying than lemonade, but one that you enjoy gulping down in the same way on a hot day, after hard work or whenever you’re particularly thirsty (or want probiotics).
Ingredients in Raspberry Beet Kvass
The main ingredients in any classic beet kvass recipe are filtered water, beets, whey or sauerkraut juice and sea salt.
This recipe, as mentioned above, uses raspberries to not only sweeten the brew, but to add a likeable fruity dimension.
I sweeten Raspberry Beet Kvass with either stevia (or monk fruit) or, for those who prefer and those on the AIP diet, maple syrup. GAPS diet folks can use raw honey melted slowly over low heat.
You can also omit the sweetener altogether, if you prefer (and for the Whole30 version).
Optional additional ingredients for Raspberry Beet Kvass are creative and delicious:
- hibiscus tea (Kvass makes two brews for each one batch of beets! It’s great to use hibiscus tea to make the second brew. I share more on this below.)
- fresh ginger or turmeric
- lavender blossoms
- citrus zest
- cayenne (not AIP)
You can perhaps imagine each of these flavors! Wonderful variations, each of them. So have fun. Consider making the basic recipe below for your first batch. When it’s time to make your second batch, consider some of the flavorful additions.
How to inoculate Raspberry Beet Kvass without dairy
There are two ways to inoculate Raspberry Beet Kvass without dairy:
- Use a dairy-free yogurt, such as an unsweetened coconut yogurt.
- Or use sauerkraut juice — one without garlic or other strong flavors (unless you’re making a savory kvass).
How to collect dairy-free whey: Pour one cup dairy-free yogurt into a coffee filter-lined colander, positioned over a bowl — overnight. In the bowl, in the morning, is dairy-free whey.
Tips for success when fermenting
The most important tip when fermenting is to consider Airlock Fermentation Lids (find them here).
Airlock lids help to keep the ferment anaerobic — which means no oxygen inside the jar, which can lead to spoilage.
Instead, the lids allow carbon dioxide to be released.
The only challenge when making beet kvass is to avoid kahm yeast. Kahm yeast is a harmless but icky-tasting film that can form on the top of your ferment. Airlock lids help to prevent this growth.
The other important tip is to keep your Raspberry Beet Kvass warm. A cold house will slow down fermentation, which again can lead to the growth of undesirable bacteria or yeast.
In cold weather or if your house is cool: Consider using a warming mat (like this one), or your yogurt maker, to give your ferment a warm, steady-temperature environment in which to grow. You can also place beet kvass in a warm, dark cupboard, or by a steady space heater.
Does Raspberry Beet Kvass contain alcohol?
Fermented beverages contain varying amounts of alcohol. However, kvass’ alcohol content is so low, it is considered non-alcoholic.
Plain beet kvass contains .5-1% alcohol. The alcohol content increases just slightly with the addition of raspberries (and optional maple syrup or honey), if allowed to continue the fermentation process.
This recipe refrigerates the ferment after the addition of fruit and sweetener to slow the fermentation while still allowing the flavors to develop and deepen.
Easy Raspberry Beet Kvass
- mason jar
- warming mat or yogurt maker (optional)
- 1 large beet 1 ½-2 cups, chopped into about 1” cubes, not grated or diced
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 Tablespoon whey (or sauerkraut juice for AIP): strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth (Use sauerkraut juice or a dairy-free whey for AIP diet and dairy-free needs [see whey how-to in Recipe Notes below].)
- ½ cup raspberries fresh or frozen (optional)
- 1/16 teaspoon or less stevia (or maple syrup for AIP): or to taste, about 10-15 drops of liquid stevia, depending on brand (Do not use stevia for the AIP diet; for the AIP diet, use up to 2 T. maple syrup to sweeten after the ferment is complete, to taste.) Or monkfruit may be used.
- Optional additional ingredients include: strongly brewed hibiscus tea, cooled and used as the liquid for your second batch of kvass, a 1-2" piece of fresh ginger or turmeric nub, cut into slices, 2 tsp. lavender blossoms, citrus zest, to taste, 1 cinnamon stick, or ¼ tsp. cayenne (not for AIP).
- Place the beet pieces into a one-quart mason jar. Fill the jar to within one inch of the neck with filtered water.
- Add the whey or sauerkraut juice.
- Cover, screwing the lid on loosely to allow gasses to escape. Or, preferably, use Airlock Lids (find link in Recipe Notes).
- Keep the brew at warm room temperature and out of direct sunlight for two days in warm weather, or up to 8 days or longer in colder weather. In cold weather, I recommend using a warming mat or yogurt maker for a warm steady temperature, to prevent spoilage or kahm yeast from developing.
- After the kvass has deepened in color, has a pleasantly sour flavor, and shows signs of bubbles near the surface, or active effervescence, strain it into a fresh jar, and reserve beets. (Also reserve about ¼ cup kvass in the original jar if you want to make another batch!) Add the raspberries and optional sweetener to fresh jar of kvass. Stir to dissolve sweetener.
- Transfer to the refrigerator. Chill and serve within one week. (Strain out the raspberries when serving, if desired, or add fresh ones for garnish.)
- To make another batch: Have beet chunks and ¼ cup kvass in original jar. Fill this jar again with fresh filtered water or cooled hibiscus tea. (Do not add new whey.)
- Again, keep the mixture at warm room temperature for 2 to 8 days.
- This second beverage may be milder and less potent than the first, (which is when and why I like to substitute the healthful hibiscus tea for the water). The beets are now “exhausted” and can be thrown away, but ¼ cup of the strained kvass may again (!) be used for a following batch in place of whey.
- Recipe Variations: The above listed optional additional ingredients can be fermented with the beets for added flavor variations and nutrition, then strained out with the beets.
How to collect dairy-free whey:Pour one cup dairy-free yogurt into a coffee filter-lined colander, positioned over a bowl — overnight. In the bowl, in the morning, is dairy-free whey.
Find Airlock Fermentation Lids here.
What are some other uses for Raspberry Beet Kvass?
Historically, in the Ukraine and Russia, kvass was ubiquitously used in place of drinking water, but also in soups and vinaigrettes.
Kvass’s pleasantly earthy and sour flavor can also be used as the liquid in smoothies.
Medically speaking, kvass is also used in wellness protocols.
Dr. Axe reports, “Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver-cleansing properties, and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. It has been reported that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, allergies and, because it is an excellent source of probiotics, it can help with digestive problems.”
Looking for more beet kvass recipes?
Enjoy this delicious Strawberry Beet Kvass, more like a smoothie, and full of probiotics.