Even though people love to hate beets in this country, I think most of them never tried properly, a.k.a. deliciously, prepared beets. Sorry, but canned beets from the Piggly Wiggly, or mushy watery purple things from your childhood salad bar should not be a standard setter; I would choke on them right now myself. But balsamic glazed roasted beets with chevre cheese, grated beet and chive salad with orange dressing? There is no way to hate those!
Besides being my favorite vegetable in the world (in case you haven’t figured it out!), beets are full of amazing health benefits. Beet kvass, along with lacto fermented beets, are probably the best sources of all the original goodness of beets because none of the nutrients get degraded by cooking, and lactic bacteria break down the sugar and tough fibers introducing additional nutrients as by-product of their metabolism.
Cardiovascular health. Beets can reduce blood pressure because of their high nitrate content (source). Nitrate converts to nitric oxide in our bodies, which helps dilate the blood vessels and improve circulation. Some say beets have similar effect as popular ED medications. For the same reason, beets are used to increase endurance during workouts (source). In Russia, beet kvass is often given to patients experiencing mild cardiovascular events; no, I’m not joking! It is rumored to reduce blood pressure to a stable level within 30 minutes. You decide.
High in folate. Folate, referred to as folic acid in its synthetic form, is a vitamin of group B. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of good about health benefits of vitamin B, but probably think of folate as a supplement for pregnant women. While it is very beneficial for expecting mothers, folate is essential in most processes of any human body. The trick is to get folate from food, as opposed to the synthetic supplement, which has shown to cause serious negative effects on health (source). Beets have a lot of folate in a form we can easily absorb, and a much better option than supplements. Cooking reduces the amount of folate, and that’s why consuming beets as part of this Beet Kvass offers the highest possible amount of this vitamin.
High in minerals and antioxidants. Beets are shown to increase body antioxidant activity (source). They are very high in a compound called betalain, which gives beets their amazing color. Betalain is a powerful antioxidant which provides anti-inflammatory and liver detoxification support (source).
Doesn’t raise blood sugar. It looks like researches aren’t too sure themselves why this might be, since the other name for beet is ‘sugar beet’, but this study showed that probably because of beets’ compounds like nitrites and betalains there is no significant spike in blood sugar observed after eating them. If you are still concerned about the sugar in beet, please note that during fermentation of beet kvass most of the sugar gets metabolized (broken down), making this tonic sour and tart, which should make it a perfectly acceptable beverage for someone with diabetes.
In Russia, beet kvass is consumed therapeutically, as a health tonic, not a beverage to quench thirst, unlike kombucha or bread kvass. Folks would take a couple of tablespoons, or a small shot glass a day. It’s also used to add flavor and color to various dishes.
This study shows that refrigerated fermented beet juice can retain all of its original antioxidants for 30 days. Not too bad!
Lacto fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning bacteria don’t need oxygen to do its magic. Keep the jar tightly closed.
I don’t use whey as a starter. Since whey is milk based, its bacteria like to feed on milk sugar, lactose. Why should they be interested in eating vegetable sugars? You wouldn’t put pickle juice in your milk to make yogurt or cheese, right?
There is no need to peel the beets since the skin contains a lot of the bacteria that drives fermentation.
Russian folks do not use salt or sauerkraut juice as part of the brine, and their kvass comes out fine.
Did you know that beets, just like cabbage, are able to be fermented in their own juice? That’s if you want to take time to get that juice out of them.
If allowed to ferment longer, kvass will get a stronger taste and deeper color. It will continue to develop at room temperature even after the beets are taken out. I kept in on my counter top for at least two and a half months before without any sign of spoilage. I like to use such strong kvass for making my beet bone soup – borscht, adding it to cold beet salads, and use it as food coloring.
HOW TO MAKE BEET KVASS WITHOUT WHEY
2 large beets, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons of sauerkraut or pickle juice (if buying, make sure to get it from the fridge section, like Bubbies)
1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt (optional; I don’t use it)
Enough filtered (or better filtered, boiled and cooled) water – OR, better – freshly squeezed beet juice, or combination of both
Place chopped beets into a half gallon mason jar.
Add vegetable juice, salt and water/beet juice to the shoulder of the jar (leave 2 inches of space between the top of the liquid and the lid).
Cover tightly and shake well to dissolve the salt.
Keep at room temperature for 3-5 days, burping daily to release pressure. If you see froth, scum or mold on top – just remove with a spoon.
When kvass gets a taste that’s sour and pleasant to you, transfer it to the fridge. Keep refrigerated for up to a month. It will not go bad after that time, but the amount of original antioxidants and lactic bacteria will start going down.
- 2 large beets, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons of sauerkraut or pickle juice (if buying, make sure to get it from the fridge section, like Bubbies)
- ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt (optional; I don't use it)
- Enough filtered (or better filtered, boiled and cooled) water - OR - freshly squeezed beet juice, or combination of both
- Place chopped beets into a half gallon mason jar.
- Add vegetable juice, salt and water/beet juice to the shoulder of the jar (leave 2 inches of space between the top of the liquid and the lid).
- Cover tightly and shake well to dissolve the salt.
- Keep at room temperature for 3-5 days, burping daily to release pressure. If you see scum or mold on top - just remove with a spoon.
- When kvass gets a taste that's sour and pleasant to you, transfer it to the fridge. Keep refrigerated for up to a month. It will not go bad after that time, but the amount of original antioxidant and lactic bacteria will start going down.