Beet Kvass: A Fermented Drink

Reader Contribution by Celeste Longacre
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Beet kvass is a fermented, Ukranian drink that gives us not only probiotics and digestive enzymes, but is a key aid in detoxifying the body.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

Fermenting anything heightens its nutritional value and adds beneficial microorganisms that are loved by our gut biome. And beets, as it turns out, are powerhouses of nutrition.

Beets have been known to fight inflammation, boost stamina, prevent cataracts, help indigestion, improve blood circulation, aid gall bladder complaints and help to prevent macular degeneration. They also defend against free radicals, help to prevent blood clots, minimize arthritis, bronchitis, diabetes and chronic pain as well as increase the body’s oxygen uptake. It has even been suggested that beets are anti-cancer. They are particularly useful in the excretion of toxins

Beets contain substances that aid in the body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. This is the step that our bodies use to bind unwanted toxic substances with particular nutrient groups. This process takes the toxins and makes them water-soluable which allows them to be excreted in the urine.

Beets are also high in vitamin C, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, flavonoids and phosphorus. Some say that their phytonutrients have the particular job of destroying disease processes.

Beets were originally grown for their greens. One of the first mentions of their use is found in Assyrian texts written around 800 BC where they were reported to be part of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It wasn’t until the 1500s that they began being grown for their root. In 1747, Germans Andreas Sigismund Marggraf along with his student, Franz Achard, developed a way to extract sugar from beets. This became important when Napoleon Bonaparte got cut off from imports by the British blockade and announced an embargo on their products. The production in the United States took off after we placed an embargo on Cuba — our major sugar producer.

All of the benefits of beets are not only available in beet kvass, but are enhanced. It can be made quite inexpensively and quickly. It’s best to use only organic ingredients.

Beet Kvass Recipe


  • 2 large or 4 medium organic beets
  • 1 clove organic garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 cup home made whey* (optional)
  • 1 quart jar
  • good quality water; no chlorine or flouride


1. Wash beets and cut them into chunks. Don’t grate them as this would produce an alcoholic drink. Be sure to include the rough part just under the stem.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

2. This is the most nutritious part of the beet and you don’t want to leave it out, even though you wouldn’t serve it to guests, because you are not going to be eating the beets. Place the beets in the jar along with the garlic, salt and whey, if available.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

3. Fill with water leaving an inch of head space or air at the top. Seal firmly. Place on the counter for three days, shaking several times a day. Then, move the jar into the refrigerator.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

4. To serve, strain the liquid into glasses. 

If you are not used to ferments, start slow. A tablespoon a day would suffice. You can increase the amount slowly until you can have all you want.

Homemade Whey

You need to have access to raw milk to make whey. If you do, simply leave it on the counter until it separates.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

This takes from three to seven days depending on the temperature in the room. Then, strain it through cheesecloth placed in a strainer over a bowl. The whey will drip through and the curds will stay in the cheesecloth.

Photo by Celeste Longacre

Photo by Celeste Longacre

You can add some chives or dill or other herbs to the curds and make a dip.

Since I began drinking fruit and beet kvass six years ago, I haven’t been sick a single day.

Celeste Longacre and her husband, Bob, have lived sustainably for more than 35 years. They grow almost all of their vegetables for the year and preserve them by freezing, canning, drying and using a home -built root cellar. Celeste ferments much of the couple’s produce and makes her own sauerkraut, kimchee, and fruit and beet kvass. She is the author of Celeste’s Garden Delights and writes a gardening blog for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For more information, visit Celeste’s website, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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