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.


  1. I love the idea! We have been making what we call 'juice soda' by bottling it with whey, in two days it gets all bubbly - quite the treat.

    I have found that a half pint jar fits perfectly into the mouth of a widemouth quart or half gallon jar with only a little room to spare, so it keeps my goodies submerged. I like your mesh idea for kraut though, as the smaller shreds can slip past the little jar.

  2. Great tips! Thank you!! I would love it if you explained the 'juice soda' further. Do you mean you are simply bottling juice with whey for 2 days? Is the juice fresh-squeezed? How much whey are you using?

  3. How is this similar to kombucha? Sounds a heck of a lot less time consuming...

  4. Been a while since I posted but to answer your questions - I have used both fresh squeezed and bottled juices, and I use a half cup of whey to a 32oz bottle then fill the rest of the way with juice. It generally takes two or three days to get nice and bubbly depending on the temperature.

    I have posted about it at my blog if you would like to take a look :)

  5. thanks for the tip!!! I wonder if i can use some little hard plastic strainer to keep the fruit under the liquid? do you think plastics could be toxic? Thanks again!

  6. This was great and super easy! I'm on a fermentation kick and this was a really easy early project. I've been wanting to make kombucha, but I really like that this uses no added sugar.

    I used local, organic (somewhat ugly) pink lady apples and ginger, and whey from homemade yogurt. The wonderful thing about this is you don't have to juice anything, just slice and microplane, though I'm sure you could add juice. I didn't use anything to weigh the fruit and ginger down, but I shook the bottle at every opportunity - probably 10x a day. After three days the kvass was just lovely. I'm enjoying it added to filtered water and pureed apples/ginger in baked goods. Thanks for the post!