need probiotics? like kombucha? try easier, tastier blackberry kvass

IMG_5417Yes, I’m a little obsessed with a fermented fruit beverage called kvass. I’ll admit it.  I just put up another gallon, this time with odds and ends I found in my freezer and crisper bin.  In my case, that’s tayberries, gooseberries, Gravensteins, and rose geranium. Surely the nectar of the gods.

I make no apologies for despising the nutritionist, food-measured-in-dietary-units national neurosis approach to dining, but since I’m clearly in the minority here and actually got some health benefit from my new hobby of making kvass, I’ll stagger on to the bandwagon and flop down, flabby and winded and horrifying, next to your favorite athlete for a moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention pleeeeease!

Last week I was feeling pretty punky and went through a course of strong antibiotics, a maneuver that would have guaranteed me a yeast infection in the days of yore.  Take acidophilous pills, cried the medical establishment.  Instead, I went red: a Russian drink so delicious, so sour and refreshing, that the Avenging Angels of the Grumpy sing, I only had a bit of nausea and marched back to health.

With this. Blackberry kvass. Behold.

IMG_5317IMG_3922IMG_5324IMG_5316If you can get your hands on wild blackberries and your neighbor has an apple tree, this drink will be even better, because it will be just about free.  Compare that to a paltry, precious glass bottle of fancy kombucha at Market of Choice!

The recipe is simple. Chop apples, add berries and everything else, add water and let bubble on counter for 2-3 days, or until sour and bubbly.  The last photo is the fruit strained from the jar after a couple of weeks.  It can be used for a second batch, which will be a bit weaker in flavor but still palatable.

You don’t need to add honey or a kickstarter for the fermentation like whey or a little leftover kvass from an earlier batch, but I think it really helps with the quality of the ferment.  I don’t do the double fermentation method, but if you want a fizzier, slightly more alcoholic drink (for kvass does contain very low amounts of alcohol thanks to the fermentation), place your finished batch in a couple of 2-liter plastic bottles, cap tightly, and leave for a few days on the counter until the bottle is very firm if you squeeze it gently, then refrigerate.

If you don’t have a gallon jar or want less, use this principle: fill jar 1/3 full with fruit, add kickstarter if you can, fill within a couple of inches of top with cold water.  More ideas of fruit and veg choices here.

Quick and Easy Wild Blackberry Kvass

Makes a gallon.

  • 1 large organic apple, quartered
  • 6 cups wild blackberries or frozen
  • handful of raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup whey or leftover kvass to start fermentation

Add all ingredients to very clean gallon jar with lid.  Fill within a couple of inches to the top of the jar with cold water.  If you overfill, the bubbly fermentation action will make your jar overflow (take it from one who can’t seem to learn this lesson).  Screw on lid tightly. Check after 24 hours to make sure brew is bubbling; skim off any scum; and taste.  When it’s sour enough for you (for me, that’s about 3 days), refrigerate and let flavor develop for a few more days, then drink either straight or with more honey to sweeten.


8 thoughts on “need probiotics? like kombucha? try easier, tastier blackberry kvass

  1. robert raymond 6 September 2013 / 5:40 am

    I just discovered your blog, thanks to my friend Marian Sansing. I just love your
    entries! Thanks SO much for making it available.


  2. MLA 7 September 2013 / 1:59 am

    Reblogged this on Saffron Magazine and commented:
    Wonderfully topical just now, Blackberry Kvass. Fermenting and autumn all in one!


  3. Donna Chornyy 13 September 2013 / 3:33 pm

    Does the lid need to be tight in order for the “brew” to “ferment?” I cut the top off a gallon milk jug, assembled the recipe, then put a double layer of paper towels, then replaced the cut off top of the milk jug on top. I guess it’s the same question, does it need to be sealed?


  4. janet 14 September 2013 / 5:06 am

    I’ve noticed that blackberries love to ferment (even when you don’t want them to) so I wonder if that was why you featured them here, and it you have tried switching up the fruit.


  5. Eugenia 14 September 2013 / 8:51 am

    Hi Janet. I did blackberries because they’re traditional (most likely for the reason you mention) and because I had just picked some. But since then, I put up a batch with frozen tayberries and gooseberries, and it was just as good. May do raspberries next.


  6. Eugenia 14 September 2013 / 8:53 am

    Should be fine in flavor, but perhaps less fizzy. Perhaps. If you really like fizzy, go ahead and do the secondary ferment in a 2-liter soda bottle, as described above.


  7. carrie 15 September 2013 / 6:09 pm

    Hi Eugenia, tx for the recipe. I have made kvass b4, beet kvass from Sally Fallons book, and my variation of her raspberry drink. She uses salt in her recipes to keep the alcohol down. No one but me would drink it.

    I have made a 1/2 gallon following your basic recipe. I like that there is no salt because I think the salt aspect is what made noone like it. I needed to use my whey but did not know it would be this easy with common ingredients from my kitchen. I’ve used blueberries from Michigan and apples and pears from the back yard. I dont think I need to worry too much about this becoming alcohol as I expect it will be drunk must faster, and hopefully not all by me! I am hoping the grandkids may enjoy some as well. I cant wait to try it!


  8. Tanya 15 January 2016 / 4:06 pm

    What creates the probiotics? Whey?


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