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Recipe: Beet Kvass

Recipe by Luke Regalbuto & Maggie Levinger Photographs by Trinette Reed & Chris Gramly

Luke Regalbuto and Maggie Levinger, the folks behind Wild West Ferments, a fermented food and drink company in San Francisco, share a recipe here for a healthy elixir. 

Beet kvass is a traditional probiotic tonic popular in Eastern Europe and Russia. It has a complex flavor profile that is not often found in beverages in the modern American diet—sour, salty, earthy, sweet, umami and sometimes fizzy. Like its relative kombucha, it is an acquired taste, but this nutrient-rich, naturally stimulating beverage is wonderful for digestive health and beneficial to those with chronic diseases. Many recipes call for adding whey, but we find it tastier without it. This version is pure and simple, so feel free to add flavors such as garlic, caraway, mint, spice, ginger, etc.

3 pounds beets—mostly red, but some chiogga if available
1/8 cup + 1/2 tablespoon salt
1 gallon water 

Scrub beets and remove any damaged portions, tops and tails. Slice the beets to be about 1/8-inch thick. The way they are cut is actually not that important—the goal is simply to create the right amount of surface area. Shredding or grating would be too much surface area and whole beets would not be enough.

Put your beets in a large gallon jar or something similar. Sprinkle 1/8 cup + ½ tablespoon salt into each container. Pour one gallon water into each container and stir vigorously.

Cover with secure cloth and label with date. Stir as often as possible (daily).

Harvest after two or three weeks, or once desired flavor is achieved. Strain and discard beets and remove any surface mold. Keep refrigerated and serve chilled. Some people like to drink it diluted in water. An ounce or two makes a great addition to fresh vegetable juice.

Read our Tips for Home Fermenting and try our recipe for “Just in the Leek of Thyme” Sauerkraut

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