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Making Beet Kvass

When you read Nourishing Traditions you can be overwhelmed with it all. There’s just a lot of crazy stuff in there, if you’re the average American eater that is.

But what most people don’t realize on first glance is that all of those fermented foods are not crazy or weird. They’re actually really traditional in the sense that they are taken from cultures all over the world who have relied on them for health and healing for thousands of years.

Sauerkraut from the Germans. Kimchi from the Koreans. Yogurt from Bulgaria. You get my drift.

In discovering these foods I have found a whole new world of really simple to prepare nourishing foods for my family. One of my most recent discoveries is beet kvass.

I couldn’t tell you exactly where it hails from, though Eastern Europe seems about right. Kvass is also made from bread into a simple fermented beverage with a low alcohol content.

Beet kvass is less alcohol ferment and more lactic acid ferment, especially if you include the whey. It’s not yummy tasty like kombucha, but it is touted as a super tonic due to its fermented qualities and the general health and purifying qualities of the beets themselves.

Best of all, it is super easy and inexpensive to make!

Beet Kvass

  • 2 large beets, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
  • 6-8 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey (optional)
  1. Place the beet pieces into a half-gallon jar. Cover with water, add sea salt (and whey, if using), and stir really well to dissolve salt.
  2. Cover tightly and allow to ferment for 2-3 days, depending on temperature.
  3. Strain off all but about 1/2 cup of the liquid. This is the kvass which you can drink in small amounts daily.
  4. Leave the beet pieces in your jar with the remaining liquid which you will use as a starter for your second batch. Cover with water again and add more salt. Stir vigorously, seal, and culture again. This time it may take an additional day or so.
  5. Once your second batch is done you have “spent” the beets and can throw them to the compost or your chickens. You’ll now want to start over with fresh beets.

Show Comments


  • thanks for your recipe! you mentioned that whey is optional. if we don’t use it (we’re allergic to dairy), would the beets ferment?

    felicia September 22, 2012 AT 7:31 pm
  • Felicia – Yes, I believe so. Just like in a lacto-fermented vegetable such as sauerkraut, the vegetable has the ability to ferment on its own if left to its own devices. The whey is a bit of “insurance” in that it will introduce the beneficial bacteria present in the cultured dairy it comes from. Without they whey it can produce other strains of beneficial bacteria in the beet kvass.

    Shannon September 24, 2012 AT 11:47 am
    • Nearly all vegetables have bacteria called *lactobacillus* living on them. The vegetable is a mere host for the bacteria. The whey just helps it happen faster. Kvass is simple, delicious, and oh so good for you. Try it!

      cory November 21, 2012 AT 4:37 pm
  • I made beet kvass and used salt and 1 tablespoon of either water kefir, sauerkraut, or leftover beet kvass and it turned out sooo yummy. I didn’t care too much for the whey one..

    Leslie Genchi September 25, 2012 AT 3:22 pm
    • I’m not a fan of the whey starter on veggies either. I kind of feel like whey bugs prefer milk. I made mine with beets, cabbage and a bit of onion. I did use 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt for a half gallon container. First time making the stuff and wow did it it have some zing to it. Very carbonated and tastier than I ever imagined it could be. Although I did kind of feel like a vampire upon my first taste. It was thicker than I expected and very very tasty.

      Toni Legates March 6, 2014 AT 10:56 pm
  • I’ve not tried this yet, although I just bought some fresh organic beets and intend to put up my fist batch tonight. I was wondering: why do all these recipes tell you to discard the beets? They don’t sound like they’d test all that different from pickled sour beets. Aren’t they delicious?

    Dave November 8, 2012 AT 2:59 pm
  • I typed “test” but meant “taste”.

    Dave November 8, 2012 AT 2:59 pm
  • Dave. I just opened my first try at kvass: no whey, 8 day ferment. I think the raw, fermented beets taste GREAT!
    I am going to start another batch using the same beets and if they taste as good after this round they will grace our table along with the other ferments.
    (slight variation, I put a couple of inches of thinly sliced ginger in with the beets)

    Becky December 13, 2012 AT 8:35 am
  • Hi all- just now making my first batch of kvass, although I’ve made the raspberry orange drink and root beer from NT. the other two recipes indicate, and I have found, that the taste is much better if left in the fridge for a week or more before drinking. Does the same apply to kvass? Thanks and happy fermenting!

    Jesse December 13, 2012 AT 5:16 pm
  • I have a question. Do you just keep the jar at room temp on the counter, or do you store it in the fridge? (I’m new at this whole fermenting thing)!

    Lori January 26, 2013 AT 5:05 pm
  • You don’t peel the beets?

    gifford March 9, 2013 AT 3:50 am
  • I just started making beet kvass about a month ago. Does anyone know if the kvass is still good, since I found mold on the top?
    Thank you!

    Shari March 25, 2013 AT 4:59 pm
    • Shari – Some say in that situation you can merely pull the mold off and smell the kvass. If it smells edible then it probably is. If not, then toss it and start a new batch.

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days March 27, 2013 AT 8:45 pm
  • hi – thanks for the recipe

    this is my first batch and im curious about the amount of salt you specify. most other non-whey recipes ive found call for 1.5 to 3 tablespoons of sea salt per half gallon, but yours only asks for two teaspoons (about half or less compared to the other recipes). is that because you were using whey as a starter and if so shouldnt the salt be bumped up a little? i just finished putting mine together and i used three teaspoons (1 TBL) per half gallon so i hope that works

    also, you specify 2-3 day of fermenting but wont the first batch take longer without the whey? i was planning on a week to ferment the first batch but i dont want to ruin it so i hope i can get some input before too long

    thanks and take care


    hal April 21, 2013 AT 11:04 am
  • Can you freeze beet kvass?

    Terri April 13, 2014 AT 5:59 pm
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