The Weston A. Price Way

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beet Kvass...Russia's Ruby Red Jewel

Served w/elegance or in a paper cup...It's all good!
Is it possible that you're wondering, "Why, beet kvass?" If  I'd never heard of it, I would wonder. I would want to know what it is and what's so great about it before I went to the trouble of whipping up a batch of my own. Here are a few of the many benefits I have heard of, read of or experienced myself:
  • Cleanses the liver and helps the liver cleanse the blood
  • Energizer effective against chronic fatigue
  • Helps treat kidney stones
  • Helps with many digestive issues including irregularity, slow digestion, and even gastroparesis.
  • Cancer therapy
  • Kidney stone treatment
  • Blood alkalizer
  • Chemical sensitivity treatments
  • Cellulite reduction
  • Protection against infections (colds, viruses) 
  • Helpful in treatment of allergies
  • Prevention of morning sickness
  • Protection from radiation exposure (Dr. Thomas Cowan, M.D, in regard to protection from radiation exposure: "Make sure to include special foods in the diet that have been shown to counteract radiation sickness. These foods include naturally fermented miso, beets, kombucha, and sea vegetables, such as kombu." [emphasis mine])
  • In addition to the enzymes it provides, beet kvass delivers lactic acid and is rich in both vitamins and minerals. 
Where have I heard such things? Most of my original information came from the cookbook/traditional cooking encyclopedia, Nourishing Traditions, authored by Sally Fallon (Morrell).  Here, beet kvass is listed in the section about 'Tonics and Superfoods'.

Since then, I have found other promotions of beet kvass via Dr. Thomas Cowan, M.D, author of the Fourfold Path to Healing, and other writers who follow the precepts presented by Dr.Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Rudolf Stiener, forerunner in biodynamic agriculture. You can read my post, Kombucha! (Part 2) 'The Elixir of Life':Evidences of Better Health' about the 'discovery' story covering both kombucha and beet kvass which Sally Fallon shared as an excerpt from Tom Valentine's*, Search for Health. (Thanks, Russia!)

Further information has come via first-hand report from friends who swear by it's restorative properties in their own lives due to its nutrient-density...and if you've been reading along with me since the transformation of this blog, you know that nutrient-density is the central point of cooking with unprocessed, real, whole foods and of traditional cooking methods.

Beet kvass, a gorgeous, transparent, ruby red in color, may be consumed as-is or combined with juices. It is often used as a replacement for vinegars in salad dressings/vinaigrettes and can be used for grain soaking purposes as well. In fact, beet kvass may be used as desired to replace acids in recipes. Many add it to soups and warm beverages, after they've cooled a bit. (Careful with heating! Enzymes are destroyed when heated between 100 and 118 degrees.)

1/2 Gal. Mason jar (Sally Fallon makes no mention of sterilizing the jar, but other recipes I've seen do. The general consensus by the Weston A. Price Foundation is that the detergent used in dishwashers is toxic at least, carcinogenic at most. Some stores now sell what they claim is non-toxic dishwasher detergent. To sterilize jars sans dishwashing detergent, wash with hot, soapy water, rinse well, and set into the dishwasher for sanitation only, without detergent. They could also be boiled, or if comfortable with it, use the non-toxic detergent.)

1/4 C. Whey (I've read this is not mandatory, but Sally Fallon's recipe calls for it and I've never done it without. To make whey (not the powdered version found in vitamin stores), check my instructions at the bottom of "Busy Days and Mayonnaise"...You'll get bonus instructions on how to make your own cream cheese.

1-2 TBS. Sea Salt (I have never used more than a tablespoon, although I've seen it's allowed in some recipes.-Personally, I can't even imagine how salty it would be with that much salt!)

2 large or 3 medium, coarsely cut, organic beets. (Don't grate...could cause to ferment too fast and form alcohol rather than lactic acid.)

Filtered or Spring Water 

Sally Fallon's recipe instructs to mix it all together, fill to the shoulder of the jar with filtered water, screw on lid, keep at room temp 2 days, and then refrigerate.

When most is gone, (about 1/4 of the kvass is left in the jar, including the beets), refill the jar with filtered water, set out 2 days again, then move once more to fridge. (I add another 1/4 cup whey to this second 'brew'...It can't hurt since whey is packed full of protein.)

Although there is nothing wrong with this method, we have made a few tweaks and probably will make a few more. My husband absolutely loves the kvass and doesn't like to run out. Since we lean towards the taste of the second brew more, we are going to try making the first batch, dividing it equally  after it's first fermentation into two jars, filling the empty portion of the jars with filtered water and drinking as-is.

We would like to also try a longer ferment, which I have seen promoted by others favoring traditional cooking methods. To do this, the jar should be left to sit at room temperature for 3 days to a week, without opening the jar. One site warns that carbonation may build during this time, so it's wise not to tightly screw on the lid, in case the resulting gases need an escape route.

When it's time to move it to the fridge, instead of drinking at will, it's to be left for at least another week, and up to 4 weeks. Apparently, the longer it's in a cool, dark place, the better it will taste. I have read that the salt and typically slightly sour tastes diminishes with age. It seems to me that if you are looking for a little fizz, as with kombucha, this would be a good way to go, too. I think I may make one batch this way while I continue with my 'normal' batch method. When I get around to trying this method, I'll let you know how it goes. (If you get to it first, please fill me in on your results!!)

So, there you have a blog-post nutshell, of course. As with all my articles, there is always more to learn. I hope you're as good with that as I am.

~Blessings and nutrient-dense eating to you!

*THIS EXCERPT, written by Tom Valentine, is the BEST overall information I have found about kombucha. I will be adding it to my kombucha pages, as well, but since I just mentioned Mr. Valentine, I felt it was just as relevant to place the link here.

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