Beet Kvass: Your Daily Health Shot

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Healing, probiotic and mineral-rich, beet kvass was used as a “cure-all” potion in ancient Russia. Now it is often used as a cleansing digestive aide and a whole foods source of probiotics.

Thick and syrupy but with a bit of a fizz, this health tonic is a major pep up for your mitochondria (the little motor keeping each of the cells in your body running). Beet juice is a liver detoxifier and fermenting it creates beneficial gut bacteria.

Good for hormone balance? Could be. I started consuming a heap of beets because I read they were good for endometriosis. The only prob is that beets are a FODMAP. But some say that fermenting actually reduces the impacts on the GI system and some low-FODMAPers may be able to tolerate the probiotic version of the otherwise harsh sugars in the FODMAP vegetables. The bacteria created in fermentation feed off sugar so perhaps that’s why?

This is a sloppy recipe because I do it differently every time and I NEVER measure. Ah well, give it a whirl anyway.

Start with a glass or ceramic jar. Metal and ferment don’t go well today, the acidic environment erodes the metal. Don’t even think about using plastic. Nooope, don’t even. Plastic is heinous. If you are making this to be healthy then you don’t want toxic chemicals leeching into it.

The lid is optional. You can use a large piece of cheesecloth folded over itself a few times held down with a rubber band. If the glass jar has a glass lid, use that (just lift it every couple of days to release the carbon dioxide). If it has a metal lid, that’s fine if the ferment is well below the lid but just know that it will end up rusty. Some fermentation wizards believe that metal will kill the bugs that you are trying to grow but other people believe this isn’t true. I reckon if you’re going to all the trouble of turning your kitchen into a laboratory, don’t take any chances. This means no metal spoons!

Fill the jar 3/4 full with rain water (or filtered water). Add as much salt as you’d like (I know, I know, what kind of stupid arse recipe is this? Well, you have to experiment. I use about two tablespoons of sea salt for a 500ml jar. Each batch you might want to add more or less salt and test out the taste.). More salt will probably make the fermentation process go faster.

What if you don’t want to use salt? Firstly, don’t be afraid of salt! Salty scare tactics from the government are based on processed refined salt. Stick to unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt and you can go nuts. But, if you still want to avoid salt you can use a whey starter (I can’t comment on this because I’ve never used one for beet kvass). You could also use the juice of a bundle of celery in place of the salt.

Stir until the salt dissolves in the water, creating a brine.

Chop up 3-5 beetroots (depending on the size), peel them if they aren’t organic or straight from your garden. Don’t peel or wash them if they are straight from your cabbage patch and you don’t roundup your dirt (FYI you can use vinegar instead of nasty roundup chemicals to keep away weeds. Orrrrr you could embrace your weeds and add them to your salads – there are a dozen varieties of weeds that make nutritious additions to your meals).

Plop the beets into the brine and place the lid on. Leave to “grow” for seven to ten days. Use a plastic spoon to check the taste every few days. It really is up to your preference, I can’t tell you when it is “ready” but I love a slight fizz and a thick syrupy consistency.

There will probably be a thin layer of white mould on top. Scrape that off and don’t worry too much about some left in the drink, it won’t be harmful (google ferment mould images to make sure what kind of mould you’ve grown).

Once the kvass is ready to drink, scoop out the beets and add them to a clean jar with half a cup of the kvass as a “starter” for your next batch. Fill with more water and salt and begin the process again (or keep the beets in the fridge until you’re ready to roll again).

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The beet kvass is the liquid, not the actual beets. Usually the roots are discarded but I know you’ll use them wisely.

You can use the beets about three times for new batches. Once they’ve been used to death, make sure you chuck them onto your garden to biodegrade (or blend them with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, handful of pine nuts, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves or dandelion weed for beet dip).

Keep the beet kvass liquid in the fridge and have a shot each day or create fun smoothies or juices with it. Blend with citrus fruits for a delicious fizzy smoothie.

Summary:
1. Dissolve salt in filtered water in a glass jar.
2. Add chopped beets.
3. Cover.
4. Taste test seven days later. If fizzy on top while thick and syrupy/vinegary underneath, it’s probably beaut.
5. Smile. Enjoy.

Post Scriptum: please please please don’t throw the beet leaves out! They have amazing liver cleansing properties (and are just all round mineral-rich superfoods because they are leafy and green – our fave nourishing combo). Use them briefly steamed in a salad or stir fry, as the “wrap” instead of bread wraps for lunch, as the “bread” around a juicy grass-fed burger, in a green smoothie if you tolerate raw leafy greens (not many of us do…).

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