Essential Omnivore

Beet Kvass

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Hey guys: Today is the last post Amy K and I have co-written in our three-part series about the beautiful beet! Our first post explained why beets are good for your liver and how to prepare a beet carpaccio salad, and our second post included a recipe for beet greens pesto. Check ‘em out and love up your beets!

Kvass is a drink that is lacto-fermented, traditionally made from grains such as wheat, rye or barley. Beet kvass has its roots (hah!) possibly from Lithuania, where kvass is called gira and more variations abound. Lacto-fermentation is the process in which lactobacillus bacteria proliferate in a controlled environment, in this case the salty solution of water, sea salt and beets. After a few days on your counter, the beet kvass liquid is full of good lactobacillus bacteria and is now a probiotic real food, similar to the more popular bottled kombuchas and kefirs out there in stores these days! The good bacteria have been hard at work while they sit on your counter those few days, primarily changing the natural sugars in the beets into lactic acid, an acid which preserves the vegetables and gives fermented liquids and foods that special tang!

But you might be asking yourself “why eat fermented foods?”

Well, not only does the fermentation process break down nutrients into more digestible forms, but it also produces B-vitamins, enzymes, and a variety of healthy probiotic bacteria. Ever wonder why your stomach gets upset and you go running for the bathroom more frequently when you’re taking antibiotics? It’s because those incredibly strong bacteria-fighting machines kill any and all bacteria that get in their way. That means that although the antibiotics annihilated the group A Streptococcus bacteria hanging out in your mouth that was giving you strep throat, they also eradicated the majority of the trillions of healthy bacteria that call your digestive system “home sweet home”. You depend on those healthy bacteria for your digestive system to work properly!

So pour yourself a drink, sit back and relax, and let the good bacteria settle into their new home.

Beet Kvass

2 medium sized beets
1.5 tablespoons sea salt (or 1 tablespoon sea salt and ¼ cup whey (drain about 2 cups of yogurt overnight in the fridge in a cloth lined sieve with a bowl underneath; the liquid that accumulates under is whey, and the yogurt above? Greek yogurt!)
2 quarts filtered water, or a bit less
2 quart-sized mason jars with lids

Wash and peel the beets. Roughly chop into one-inch cubes. Split the beet chunks into both mason jars and evenly sprinkle half the sea salt into each (or, if you are using the whey, split the ¼ cup between the mason jars and note the reduced salt content!). Fill the jars with filtered water, stopping one inch below the lid. Tightly fasten the lids and shake to dissolve the salt in each. Place in a cupboard or on your counter top for two days. Drink approximately four ounces in the morning. After you have consumed the liquid in the jars, you may add more water (no need to add more salt) and make another batch using the same beet chunks two more times.

Pro Tip: Diluted kvass makes a great electrolyte replacement drink with NO sugar!

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