|Starting out: fruit, water, honey|
Kvass is an ancient Slavic-Baltic drink made from fermented sourdough bread which morphed into beet-kvass in Russia and the Ukraine, a dense and strong-flavoured traditional drink that remains very popular across Eastern Europe.
However, a lightly effervescent, summery, fruit kvass is quick and easy to make, just using ripe fruit, water and honey. Highly flexible, it can use any fruit you have to hand, even frozen or dried. Like all lacto-fermented products, kvass is as good for you as it tastes. The alcohol content is negligible, but add gin or vodka to make a cocktail if you want to go that way (try it with this and a bit of soda).
What goes into a fruit kvass? Strawberries, raspberries and peaches are all good, either on their own or mixed; so too are mangoes, pears, blueberries. Throw in some grated ginger, a curl or two of lemon peel, or some star anise. With autumn not too far away, blackberry and apple is looking good.
|After 12 hours, the bubbles are beginning to rise|
- roughly chop 2 peaches and 6 strawberries (or equivalent);
- place in a 2 litre container;
- add a spoonful of unpasteurised honey;
- top up with natural spring water and cover.
You can add a kick-starter of a tablespoon of whey (the colourless liquid strained from live yoghurt), a splash of your previous kvass brew, or even a piece of sourdough bread. However, it works very well with just the honey.
Leave the jar in a shady, warm place, stirring every six hours.
Depending on the temperature, it will begin to bubble after twelve hours, and usually takes 2 to 3 days fermentation to be ready. The longer you leave it, the more sour the flavour becomes, so keep tasting. When ready, decant into clean bottles and store in the fridge, where it will last for several days. Serve chilled.
Sometimes a white scum can form on the surface during the ferment (this means it hasn't been stirred frequently enough - the lacto-bacilli in the liquid will kill off any "bad" bugs so stirring keeps the fruit submerged). As long as the batch still smells good and fruity, the scum can be scraped off and the mixture stirred thoroughly. A bad smell usually means it has gone off: abandon and start again.
|After a couple of days, the fruit looks "cooked"|
Although it sounds like a summery drink, kvass can be made throughout the year, though fermentation slows a little in the winter.