Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fruit "kvass," my newest love

There are very few things, in my opinion, as satisfying as making your own beverages. Having these drinks on hand adds an element of luxury to life, and makes the everyday just a little more special...and really, it's not the same when you're paying someone else to do this for you. I like knowing I made these things myself. In the past week I have made my first beet kvass (which Oliver sucks down like milk), vegetable medley kvass (still fermenting), and three fruit varieties (strawberry-pear-ginger, apple-raspberry (REALLY good!), and apple-mint-ginger).

As someone who grew up in a household with no beverages (aside from water and milk), I have always considered it a treat to have some glass bottles in the fridge, filled with delicious liquids just right for sipping with a meal, or on their own. Past favorites have included my homemade ginger ale, and now of course I brew my own kombucha, but since I am currently avoiding all sweeteners (aside from very small amounts of raw honey) I was thrilled to discover fermented fruit kvass. Technically, of course, the name kvass should not really be used to refer to this concoction (Russian kvass is traditionally made by fermenting a form of grain with something sweet), but it will do. The whey allows for fermentation of the fruit to begin, rendering the beverage nutritious, refreshing, and with a very pleasant little kick.

The best thing is that making fruit kvass is both easy and fun! Pick out a combination of fruit, berries, and fresh herbs or spices that you think would go well together, and get started. In a one-quart wide-mouth Mason jar combine the following (be sure to use organic ingredients for the best fermentation results):
-a big handful of berries
-one sliced "core" fruit (such as apple or pear)
-a tablespoon of grated ginger
-1/2 cup raw milk whey
-enough filtered water to fill the jar

Combine all ingredients, top off with water, place a weight of some sort on top of the fruit to keep it submerged, and close tightly. Keep on the counter in a warm-ish place for 3 days, before transferring to the fridge. You can top off the bottle with filtered water and a splash of whey when it gets low, until the fruit is all used up.

This recipe can be varied by using different fruits, citrus juices, fresh herbs, or even vegetables.

As I have been making many forays lately into the world of lactofermentation I was puzzling way too much over what to use as a suitable weight. Some of my fermented mackerel had gone putrid at the top of the jar because it didn't all stay underneath the weight (a Mason jar lid insert) that I had placed on the top. I really needed something that would keep the solids completely beneath the water or fermenting liquid.

Hugo is great at coming up with solutions, and he discovered the PERFECT thing at the Container Store: a stainless steel mesh herb ball (large-size, Progressive brand), which we took apart and made into two separate weights/strainers. They fit perfectly inside a wide-mouth Mason jar. I'm sure there are many lacto-fermentation websites with more technologically advanced solutions, but I think this one works great for now.

Oliver LOVES fruit kvass with his meals.