Cloves are a perfect match for the pungent and earthy beetroot. They have many medicinal benefits – they are anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal and can even be used to deter mould in the home. Cloves are actually the flower buds of an evergreen rain-forest tree, Sygizium aromaticum, that is native to Indonesia. The buds start off pale in colour, then turn from green to bright red at the time of picking. Taste your kvass and only add a second clove at bottling stage if you want more aroma. They’re only small, but they pack a lot of punch.
The cloves make for a delightfully aromatic drink, perfect for a winter night.
- 2 medium or 1 large beetroot (beet), skin intact
- ½ tsp pure sea salt
- 750 ml (26 fl oz / 3 cups) filtered water or springwater
- 1–2 cloves
- 1 drop edible pure orange essential oil or 2 thin strips orange zest
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Allow 5-8 days fermentation time.
Wash the beetroot and cut it into 1–2 cm (1/2–3/4 inch) pieces. Put the beetroot in a 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) wide-mouth glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and add the salt. Add 1 clove and 1 strip orange zest. Pour in the filtered water, leaving a 2 cm (3/4 inch) gap between the liquid and the lid. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Tightly seal the jar and place out of direct sunlight in a cool spot. Leave the liquid to ferment for 3–5 days, stirring or shaking daily. After around 3 days, taste the kvass. When it is as dark and sour as you like it, the kvass is ready to bottle.
Put a funnel in the opening of a 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cup) glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid and put a strainer on top of the funnel. Pour the kvass into the bottle through the strainer. Discard the beetroot left in the strainer (see Tip).
Taste the kvass and add the remaining clove, if needed, and a drop of orange oil or the remaining orange zest to the bottle. Tightly seal the bottle lid and leave the bottle on the bench to build carbonation. This could take 2–3 days, depending on the temperature.
When the kvass is as fizzy as you like (beet kvass only produces a mild fizz), store it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process, and enjoy cold.
Recipe from Probiotic Drinks at Home by Felicity Evans (Murdoch Books, sb, $27.99) Photography by Rob Palmer.