One of our bestsellers is Beet Kvass (“kuh-VAHZS”), a sour beverage made from lightly salted beets. While most of us usually bake, cook, or pickle beets, in Eastern Europe, a beverage is made from brined beets. When bottled, it has a slight fizz to it, but it’s not as naturally carbonated as our Water Kefir. Beet Kvass can also be used as a soup base in borscht or in place of vinegar in some recipes.
The term beet generally refers to the taproot of the plant, with its rich purple and red colors. By salting raw beets in a brine, the hue of Beet Kvass becomes a distinctive deep magenta. Through this fermentation, bacteria and yeasts eat the sugars naturally found in beets.
Beets contain two complex sugars, fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosacharides). For some, these are hard to digest in certain foods, especially raw roots. Food science researchers help people with hard to treat IBS symptoms by focusing on these difficult to digest sugars. Because Beet Kvass is made from raw beets which are never cooked, we get to enjoy a tonic many can easily digest.
“Mostly vegetables are fermented in a solid state, generating liquid, but in modest proportions. This liquid has strong flavor and can be drunk as a powerful digestive tonic…By fermenting vegetables in a high proportion of water, vegetable nutrients infuse into the liquid, resulting in delicious sour live-culture tonic beverages.”
-Sandor Katz, The Art of Fermentation
In previous years, we sourced beets locally. This year, the regional summer beet harvest didn’t do so well. In spring, we had weather that was really, really cold and then suddenly really, really hot. With it being so wet in April as well, all these conditions made it hard for beets and cabbage to thrive.
After being out of Beet Kvass for several weeks, customers gave feedback that they really wanted it back. Many people have incorporated it into their diet and they didn’t want to let go of it. One customer suffering from acid reflux drinks it for that. Often, customers know more than we do about health benefits they experience from our ferments. We appreciate the research our community does on their ailments, how to work with food, and for bringing this to our attention.
To provide the service of making this product that is beneficial to people, we decided to source beets through a grocery store that sells produce from Cal-Organic. Regional grocery stores source organic produce from this company. Grimmway Farms, the largest grower, producer, and shipper of carrots in the world, owns Cal-Organic and Bunny Luv carrots. This company recently came under criticism because it grows its carrots in a district where oil field wastewater is mixed with groundwater. Four water districts in California do this practice, and it effects a huge swath of produce grown through California agribusiness.
While we can potentially buy anything out-of-season we want from grocery stores, we don’t have close relationships with these growers and farmers. When we buy beets locally through Green Door Gourmet, Harpeth Moon Farm, and Caney Fork Farms, we trust these people and their practices in our community. Beets do well in the fall, and our feeling is we will be able to source them again locally.
In addition to Beet Kvass, we currently stock a Ginger Beet Kvass, which features local ginger from Bloomin’ Shrooms. Compared to Beet Kvass, it is a tad sweeter with a tingling kick to it. In the past, we made a divine Golden Beet Kvass from golden varieties of beets. We are excited for the autumnal return of the beets we love, to see what inspires us to make from this year’s harvest.