Kvas - Ukrainian Bread Soda Pop

If you’re looking for an easy to make home made fizzy drink or have alot of left over bread that you don’t want to waste, Kvas is the perfect and easy drink to make at home. 

Kvas is an ancient drink created in the ancient Kingdom of Kievan Rus or modern day Ukraine that has become popular throughout Eastern Europe and many other places around the world. From the 9th century until now, Kvas is enjoyed as a refreshing, natural and delicious drink that is reminiscent of beer but usually with no alcohol, making it enjoyable for everyone. 

Making Kvas is very simple and traditionally it was even made without any yeast added, but to simplify and speed up the process, our recipe will use a tiny amount of yeast so that the drink can be ready in just a few days instead of weeks. 

To start, we will take a quarter of a loaf of dry rye bread and cut into smaller squares. The smaller pieces will be able to get toasted faster. It is of course possible to use other types of bread, but none will yield the same taste as rye bread. This is because rye bread will naturally add riboflavin, niacin and thiamin into the Kvas as well as increase the drinks antioxidant activity up to 60%. Other types of bread and especially white bread tend to make the taste more sour and less “bready” and thick. 

Once we’ve cut enough bread, we can put into an oven and toast it until it is golden brown color. While the bread is toasting, we will pour 1 liter of water into a pot, add in our raisins for taste and mix in our sugar until it dissolves. Then we can begin to boil the water mixture. This doesnt need to be too long and once the water mixture has started to boil, we can move it off the stove and set it to cool down to room temperature. 

While the water mixture is cooling, we will put all our toasted bread into our brewing bottle or container. We can also add any additional herbs like basil as well as berries and fruit. For this recipe, we will just add a bit of basil and a few cherries for taste. Traditionally, kvas was made using cherries but raspberries are also commonly used. Both will add a nice sweet and tangy flavor to the kvas, but if cherries and raspberries are difficult to find, any other berry or even fruit for that matter will work. The fruits that would not be recommended for this are ones that are from the citrus family or any other sour fruit. There is no problem in trying to use them, but keep in mind that the fruit we add should add sweetness and just a bit of tang. It should not overpower the taste of the drink. Because of this, the amount should also be fairly small, we will only need about 5-8 cherries. 

Once the water mixture has cooled to room temperature, we can pour it into our bottle and over the toasted bread, herbs and fruit. Now we will add the ingredients that will help this drink ferment and pull the flavour out of the bread and the other ingredients. Pour half a tablespoon of sourdough starter into the bottle and then add half a teaspoon of bread yeast into the bottle as well. Stir the contents of the bottle well and then cover with a cheese cloth and cap it lightly. 

Store the bottle in a cool dark place for about one to three days and wait for it to ferment. The amount of time will really depend on the outside air temperature. Colder weather would mean that more time is required for fermentation while hot or very humid temperature would mean that the brew can be ready fairly quickly. If the weather has been extremely humid, kvas can sometimes be ready in just 12 hours. The easiest way to tell if the drink is ready is by looking in the bottle to see whether many bubbles have formed at the top and if the contents of the drink are starting to rise to the top of the bottle. We can pour out small amounts on day one or day two to taste the kvas and whether enough natural carbonation has occurred. Once the drink is fizzy but still sweet, it is a sign that it is ready for bottling.

Once the drink has sufficiently fermented, we will use a cheese cloth or a strainer to strain the contents of the drink into individual smaller sized bottles. Sometimes you may wish to strain the drink twice in order to get rid of any big pieces of bread or fruit that may have remained. Once strained and poured into smaller bottles, cap them tightly. Kvas is now ready to drink so enjoy it with your next meal. Kvas can be kept for about 5 to 7 days and up to 10 days if stored in the refrigerator so drink up fast!

Ingredients:

1 liter of water

1.5 cups of sugar

A quarter loaf of dried rye bread

10+ raisins

0.5 tablespoon of sourdough starter

Herbs, basil and berries

0.5 teaspoon of yeast

Recipe:

  1. Cut bread into small square pieces
  2. Toast bread in oven until all pieces of bread are golden brown color
  3. In a pot, pour in 1 liter of water, 10 raisins and 1.5 cups of sugar
  4. Boil the water and mix it all well so that the sugar dissolves 
  5. Once the water mixture is boiling, move it off the stove and set it to cool to room temperature
  6. In a separate bottle, add in the toasted bread pieces and any additional herbs, basil and berries for taste
  7. Once the water mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into the bottle and over our bread and other ingredients
  8. Pour 0.5 tablespoon of sourdough starter into the bottle and add 0.5 teaspoon of yeast into the bottle
  9. Stir content of bottle well
  10. Cover bottle with cheese cloth and cap it lightly
  11. Store bottle in a cool, dark place for 1 to 3 days for the fermentation to take place
  12. On day 2, check the bottle to see whether bubbles have formed and the fermentation is underway
  13. Once the brew is ready, strain the drink into separate bottles and cap them tightly
  14. Refrigerate and enjoy the home made Kvas

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