At San Francisco’s Bar Tartine, kvass (a fermented and subtly alcoholic Eastern European beverage) is made from beets and rye scraps from the beloved Tartine Bakery. Cortney Burns, one of the restaurants chefs, isn’t doctrinaire about the recipe though—like making bread, it’s more a process that’s felt out and intuited. “Kvass has a natural acidity and gentle salinity which works well when blending drinks. I find it wildly refreshing,” Burns says. “It’s great with everything from mezcal to vodka.”
Yield: 7 cups
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups sour whey , from yogurt or beet juice (see Editor's Note)
- 2 pounds beets, peeled and chopped
- 2 heels rye bread
- Pour water, whey, (or water and salt if not using whey) into a large nonreactive container.
- Stir to dissolve.
- Add the beets and rye bread.
- Top with a weight to keep beets and bread submerged in the brine.
- Seal the container, using a lid with an airlock if you have one.
- Place in a clean, well-protected, low-light area with an ambient temperature of 60° to 68°F/16° to 20°C until the beets develop a mild sour flavor, 7 to 10 days.
- If you have sealed it without an airlock, open the container every few days or so to release carbon dioxide buildup and check for mold.
- Strain the liquid, reserving the beets and liquid separately.
- Transfer the liquid to one or more flip-top bottles or canning jars with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate for up to 2 months.
- Pack the beets into one or more airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or juice and drink.
If you do not have access to sour whey, use an 2 additional cups water and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt instead.