What is Kvass?
Kvass is a traditional Slavic fermented beverage originating in Ukraine.
Actually, kvass is extremely widespread in Eastern Europe. It is also made in Lithuania (gira) and Latvia (kvass). The official classification says that kvass is a soft or low-alcohol beverage made with incomplete lactic acid and accompanying alcoholic fermentation.
History of Kvass
It has been known since ancient times and was very popular among Ukrainians in Kyiv Rus (Kievan Rus). The first written mention about Kvass was the year 996 C.E. in an ancient book the “Primary Chronicle” (“The Tale of Bygone Years”). Traditions of making kvass were widespread also in such countries as Latvia (kvass) and Lithuania (gira).
Benefits of Kvass
Kvass quenches thirst well on hot days. It is rich in probiotics, vitamins B1, B6, magnesium, phosphorus, contains amino acids and calcium pantothenate, which is required in case of intestinal atony.
Lactic acid bacteria, formed during fermentation, increase the body’s defenses against viruses, toxins and carcinogens.
That is why kvass was widely used in the Middle Ages in folk medicine as a tonic to improve the cardiovascular system in some disorders of the intestine.
It should be kept in mind that kvass is a product of fermentation, so it is strongly recommended not to use pregnant and lactating women, children under three years, people suffering from stomach ulcers and chronic gastritis.
What is Kvass made of?
In the Ukrainian land, Kvass was made with beets, fruits, flour, bread. The ancient recipe for an extremely healthy and refreshing Ukrainian beverage Bread kvass (rye-wheat bread and sourdough starter) from the culinary website of the traditional ethnic cuisine Etnocook is very simple. In traditional Ukrainian cuisine, it is made without commercial yeast. If needed the natural homemade sourdough starter is used. It is very important to use filtered spring water and kitchen tools from natural materials, best wooden. Kvass is a very refreshing beverage commonly made from rye bread.
Ukrainian Kvass contains vitamin B12, vitamin B2, the mineral manganese, selenium, niacin, phosphorus.
Benefits of beet kvass
Beet kvass normalizes blood pressure due to nitric oxide, which is formed during fermentation from natural nitrates, dilates blood vessels, and improves blood circulation. Beet kvass also helps the liver remove toxins.
The phytonutrient betaine contained in beets reduces inflammation and has anti-cancer effects. This is especially important for the prostate and pancreas.
Is Kvass drink alcoholic?
Actually, due to the natural fermentation, fresh young Kvass usually contains less than 1.3% of alcohol by volume and considers to be a nonalcoholic beverage. So, it can be consumed also by a person under 21, including children of any age, however not recommended for toddlers and children under 3 years old.
In a while, the percent of alcohol can increase up to 2% of alcohol by volume. The older Kvass is the stronger it can be, however, not so strong to be an alcoholic drink.
How to choose bread for kvass
Actually, the traditional Ukrainian cuisine recommends you to take rye sourdough bread for this recipe. The best way is to slice a loaf and to bake them in dark brown color. The bread has to be totally dry.
When to drink Kvass
Usually, Kvass is a popular drink during hot summer days but traditionally it was widely used in ethnic Ukrainian cuisine to prepare different dishes, usually in recipes of soups and stewed vegetables
Ukrainian Bread Kvass
- use filtered spring water and kitchen tools from natural materials
- sugar (75 g) can be taken instead of honey
- the leaven from the bottom of the pot can be used for re-preparation of kvass, for this purpose it is collected after the drain of a beverage into a separate glass jar, tightly closed and stored in the refrigerator for ~ 2 weeks
- for this recipe, kvass is a very light color, for darker is taken bread baked up to a dark crust
- instead of hops sourdough starter (100 g) or the simplest sourdough starter can be used commercial yeast, ~ 50 grams of fresh or ~ 2 tsp. dry
- keep the ready kvass in the refrigerator no more than 3-4 days
- a little more sugar or honey can be added, to taste
Kitchen tools and Cooking Utensils: knife, glass or enamel pot 3 liters (or wooden tub 3 liters), Cheesecloth , a wooden spoon, glass or clay pots with lid
Ingredients of the Recipe of Traditional Ukrainian Bread Kvass
- rye-wheat bread - 300 g
- sourdough starter - 80 g
- water - 3 l
- honey - 50 ml
- raisins - ~ 50 g, to taste
Add sliced bread to hot water (90 C), let it cool down, to a temperature of ~ 40C (water must be slightly warm)
Add sourdough starter to warm water with bread
3. Mix bread with sourdough starter and water.
Add honey or sugar, carefully mix the ingredients.
Cover the pan with a cheesecloth and put in a warm place (20-25 C) for ~ 2-3 days. Kvass can be ready a little earlier or later, depending on the conditions of the fermentation process.
Ready kvass without stirring, filter through a cheesecloth to smaller glass or clay pots, add 4-5 raisins, cover with dense lid and store in a cold place (preferably in the refrigerator) for 4-5 days.
Ukrainian Bread Kvass has a delicate sweet sour-sweet taste, it is light and refreshing. When pouring it is sparkling. Drink cooled