The Fruity Side of Kvass
a guest article by Nanette Achziger
One day I decided to find out what all this hype is about with probiotics. I had seen advertisements for supplements, yogurt, and yogurt type drinks all claiming to offer gut health. What did this all mean? Well come to find out our bodies are home to millions of bacteria. In fact, we have more bacteria than we have human cells; about 15:1 to be more exact. The surprising thing is that our health and well-being depend on healthy thriving good bacteria. (There happen to be numerous species of bacteria some of which coexist nicely with our human cells and others not so nicely.) Enter probiotics: they are the good bacteria.
I am not a big fan of store-bought yogurt because of all the sugar in it and I prefer real food over supplements. So I decided to explore other ways to get my fill of bacteria, or should I say, probiotics. As I researched probiotics I found that it is fermented foods and beverages that contain a fair amount of probiotics.
Fermenting, if you don't know someone who does it, can be very intimidating. So, I decided to start with something that seemed the least bit intimidating, and that was something called Beet Kvass. I researched the process and it sounded simple enough. With a jar, some beets, salt, water, and 3-5 days I would have a fermented beverage teeming with good bacteria. I made a batch and was super excited to share my creation with my family.
Well, if you have ever tasted beets they can be rather "earthy" and needless to say, the family was not a fan. I happened to like it, but to get the family involved in this probiotic bandwagon I was going to have to find something else.
Kvass originates from Russia and has been around for centuries. It appears that early Kvass was made from old bread or grains, however there are many variations and one of them is made with fruit. "Sweet," I think, "Fruit kvass it is for my next experiment!" Not much difference from the original beet kvass recipes, except to change out the beets and salt with fruit, honey, and whey.
I made a strawberry and lemon kvass to start, and it was a hit! It was like summer in a glass, so crisp and refreshing. Fruit kvass is a welcome change of pace from sugary sodas and fruit juices, not to mention its probiotic punch.
Give this a try and see how delicious and versatile it can be!
How to Make a Fruit Kvass
- Organic, ripe fruit to fill 1/4 of a 2 quart Mason jar (suggestions below)
- 1 tablespoon unpasteurized honey (optional)
- 1 inch ginger root, sliced, or other spices such as a couple of cinnamon sticks or a few cloves
- 2 tablespoons whey (suggestion below)
- Enough filtered or spring water to almost fill the jar
To get whey, take a store-bought or homemade fermented yogurt. Put a cup of the yogurt in cheesecloth and hang the cheesecloth above a dish in the refrigerator for several hours. The whey will separate from the yogurt and drip into the dish.
Rinse and wedge fruits - such as apples, peaches, pears, lemons, limes, and strawberries - and slightly smash berries such as raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Add selected fruit, spices, whey, and honey to jar and top with water, leaving 1 inch of space at the top of the jar. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and let sit for 3-5 days. Shake a couple times a day to prevent mold from growing at the top. After about 24 hours, you should start to see bubbles forming. After 2 days, press down on the top of the jar. If it has bubbled and does not give, then crack open the lid to release some of the pressure and secure the lid.
The fermentation process is complete when the fruit looks like it has been cooked and the brew taste slightly tangy. Strain the liquid, bottle, and refrigerate, reserving the fruit and about a cup of liquid in the jar to brew a second batch.
To start a second batch, add a tablespoon of unpasteurized honey and fill with water. Set aside for another 3-5 days as above. Once you have fermented your second batch, throw out the fruit and start fresh.
My favorite fruit combinations:
- Strawberries and lemon
- Raspberries and lime
- Cranberries and mint
- Peaches, raspberries, and ginger
- Apples, raisins and cinnamon
As a little extra bonus: once you have drained the whey from your yogurt you will have yogurt cheese. It is similar to cream cheese in texture. My favorite use for it is on pancakes with berries.
Nanette Achziger is a health and wellness advocate and author of Kaizen: A Toolbox for Cultivating Optimal Health. Her passion is to encourage others to make positive sustainable changes in their lives through weekly actionable items. She can be found at www.nanetteachziger.com.