I've lined of some great guest posts for the next several weeks to give me a chance to rest during the last week of my pregnancy and when the baby is born. Today's post is written by Celeste Longacre - author, mother and master of sustainable living. I know you'll enjoy this recipe for Fruit Kvass as much as I do! (Photos are my own).
Decades ago I became convinced that, if I wanted to have a healthy body, I needed to put the right kind of fuel in it - real food. Further study led me to learn that growing most of my own vegetables ensures higher quality produce than anything that I could buy. So, with my husband, Bob's, help, I created a vast garden. I learned to can and freeze veggies and Bob built me a lovely root cellar to store the beets, carrots and potatoes throughout the winter.
Later, I learned that the very important skill of fermenting food! Keeping my digestive system happy meant incorporating fermented food in to my diet. For tens of thousands of years, our ancestors preserved their foods by fermenting them. Our gut biomes developed with the help of many microbes that only come available to us through this process. Some of the sauerkraut, kimchii and pickles that are available through grocery stores are fermented, but they are also usually expensive. The probiotics that are created by this process are available through pharmaceuticals, but they tend to be pricey, too.
What if we could make our own ferments, rich in probiotics, easily and for pennies?
Well, we can! I have been making a drink called fruit kvass for about five years now. This drink provides not only lots of probiotics, but also digestive enzymes that help break down the food that we eat into its proper components. Since I began introducing probiotics in to my diet on a regular basis, I haven’t been sick once.
1/2 gallon jar with a tight fitting lid - buy here
2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables and dried fruit. - 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (melons, apples, oranges, berries etc) PLUS 1 cup of either more fruit, or vegetables (carrots, beets, cucumber etc.) or dried fruit (raisin, apricots, cranberries etc.)
1/4 tsp of quality, non-iodized salt (sea salt or Himalayan Pink) - like this
Place a cup of fruit (most fruits will work), in to a 1/2 gallon jar. If the fruit is large, like oranges and apples, cut it into smaller, one-inch sized, pieces. If it has a tough-ish skin that cannot be peeled, like blueberries or grapes, mash them a little before putting them into the jar because you want to liquid to penetrate.
Add an additioanl ½ cup of fruit, dried fruit or vegetables. You can really use almost any vegetables, too, but again, if it is large, cut it up into smaller pieces (do not grate).
Add ¼ teaspoon of good quality salt (sea salt or Himalayan pink).
If you have some homemade whey handy, or you'd like to incorporate additional probiotics, measure ½ cup into the jar. This step is not absolutely necessary—the kvass can be made without it—but will add additional beneficial microbes if you do.
Fill the jar with pure water (no fluoride or chlorine) leaving about two inches of head space or air at the top.
Cover tightly, shake vigorously and place on a kitchen counter covered with a towel.
Shake several times a day and let the gases out by loosening the lid briefly once a day (or add an airlock like this one!)
If you have a warm kitchen, after two days, the kvass will be ready to strain. A cooler kitchen may require three days or more (leaving it to ferment in the oven with just the light on also creates a perfectly warm environment). You will know that it's ready once little bubbles have started to form.
When ready, strain out the fruit and place the liquid in the refrigerator.
If you suffer from constipation, it might be a good idea to eat the fruit for the fibre, otherwise, it can be composted.
Add a tablespoon or two to each glass of water that you drink during the day. If you are not used to ferments, start slow; perhaps one tablespoon a day. As your body gets used to it, you can drink as much as you want. The kvass will not only give you lots of probiotics, but the digestive enzymes, vitamins and minerals will help the body absorb the water as well as the nutrients in the food that you eat during the day!
A larger variety of fruits and vegetables means more variety in probiotics.
If you make a pumpkin pie or cook some winter squash, save the skin and seeds for a kvass. After a while, you will find that you have some favorites.
Add fresh organic turmeric when it is available - turmeric is anti-inflammatory and does wonders for the body.
Look for tiny bubbles around the top when the kvass is done. It should taste like the essence of whatever fruits or vegetables you used with a slight effervescence. It won’t be sweet as the micro-organisms eat the sugars. When you add it to a glass of water, you are given merely a hint of a crisp flavour. Very refreshing.
If, for some reason, your kvass looks, smells or tastes bad, don’t drink it.
Try adding the fermented fruit to a smoothie for a boost of probiotics!
For your convenience, here is a video on How to Make Fruit Kvass!
Celeste Longacre lives sustainably with her husband, Bob, in a hand-made octagonal home with additions. She is a mother of three, is passionate about growing and fermenting food, and is also the author of “Celeste’s Garden Delights,” which discusses living a sustainable lifestyle. You can visit her web site for more information.