I like beets.. no really I do. I like them pickled, mostly.. and sometimes I like them roasted.. but mostly pickled.
I bought a bunch of beets from my last trip to the Co-op and had intended on making an apple and beet salad from “Whole Grains for a New Generation” (which we are reading for the From Scratch Club book club by the way and if you haven’t entered to win a copy of this book go do it NOW because today is the last day to enter! )
Anyway, I ended up not making the salad as I ran out of time, and I didn’t really feel like pickling them as my canning enthusiasm tends to wane in the winter months.
Somewhere it the back of my brain, a little thought bubble popped up and said “what about kvass?”
I really can’t remember where I first saw kvass unless maybe when I was at the Hawthorne Valley Farm for a cheesemaking class. I was (and am still) really into sauerkraut so I was eyeballing all the lacto fermented stuff. Chances are I got an eye on their kvass.
Kvass is essentially fermented beet juice. Supposedly, it’s a blood tonic and of course any lacto-fermented stuff is good for you. Most of the recipes I found said to NOT peel the beets. This is because the veggies have a naturally occurring lactobacillus on the outside and that is what causes the fermentation. That’s the reason things get sour, bubbly and yummy.
I couldn’t do it.. I wanted to peel them.. I compromised by not rinsing them after I peeled them, allowing the cross contamination from the knife cutting through the peel to stay with the beet. (yes I washed the dirt off first with cool water). These were organic beets so I probably could have just keep the skin on but.. .. I couldn’t.
Besides, if I didn’t peel them, I wouldn’t have the wonderful opportunity to quote one of my favorite plays.
After peeling the beets and leaving them in big chunks (about 3/4 inches) I popped them in a half gallon wide mouth jar with some peeled sliced ginger.
Now, I’m a math geek. Maybe it’s part of my bread baking history but I like to have an idea of what I’m doing. I’m not a fan of the “add 2 tbsp of salt to x amount of water to make a brine”. 2 Tbsp of salt? Canning salt? Kosher salt? Sea salt? They will all measure out different amounts because of their grain size.
Me no likey.
Here is the thing. I want my stuff to come out right the first time. You need a high enough salinity to keep the bad germos from thriving but not so high that the lactobacillus keels over too.
I want numbers, people!
Thank heavens for Google and the awesome people over at Pickl-it who posted this fantastic chart on how to make a 2% salinity brine. (and yes, smarty pants, I could do the math for a 2% brine but I didn’t KNOW I needed a 2% brine until I read the chart, mmmkay?)
So I made my brine and added it to the jar until it was about an inch from the top, gave it a quick stir and slapped on my Pickle-pro
I promptly stuck it up on top of my cabinet, which is the perfect place to stay out of the sun and be relatively undisturbed by temperature changes.
The next day, because I cannot leave things along… ever.. I took it down to give it a peek.
So cool! it’s already fermenting! yay!
I know the light is different here but take my word for it, it’s darker and bubblier already.
Damn, after all this build up I hope I like it. I guess I’ll find out in about three weeks.
Hat tip to all the following bloggers who posted their kvass recipes which I totally copied in one way or another