Do you like beets? I don't. I hate them. They taste exactly like dirt. I cannot even begin to comprehend how anyone could like them, unless, of course, you are that kid that used to eat dirt on the playground, then I totally get it. When people call it "earthy", I have to laugh, because it is the equivalent of calling someone "big boned". We all know what that means.
But I digress.
Even though beets are disgusting and taste like you are diving mouth-first into your backyard garden, we all must admit that they are healthy. What could make beets even more healthy? Why, fermenting them in salt (I love you, probiotics!) and making them drinkable.
Yum. (Try to contain your excitement.)
This is exactly what beet kvass is - a fermented beet drink. I first found out about beet kvass from my awesome book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. This book taught me about kombucha (I love that), kefir (also yums), and about the importance of incorporating fermented foods into your daily diet (sauerkraut, sourdough bread, yogurt, etc.). Bringing in such acquired tastes to your daily diet is healthy for your guts, your immune system, and much more.
Did you know beet kvass is a good blood tonic? Beets can reduce blood pressure, are used even to increase endurance in sports (take that, steroids!), and have even been said to help with ED (not like you have a problem with that). Beets are high in folate - that B vitamin they load you up with when you get knocked up. (Was that too vulgar? Sorry. When you are "with child".) They've got the power to detox your liver and contain betalain, an anti-inflammatory compound. The sugars in beets won't raise your blood sugar, and researchers are not exactly sure why (I think it's because your mouth just told your body you're eating dirt, personally.), but they think it has something to do with the betalain and the natural nitrites (don't get confused and start eating sodium nitrates and nitrites in your lunchmeat now, what's up, pancreatic cancer).
Even knowing all the wonders of beets, I still cannot stand the taste of them.
I walked into my favorite health food store in the entire world on Saturday and what was going on? There was a lovely girl there proclaiming the accolades of fermentation - and she had samples. She had local, organic, fermented products. I couldn't NOT try it. Every ounce of my healthy brain was screaming out for me to try it, even if it was worse than swimming a set of broken 300s. I started out with the sauerkraut (which I hate) - and this one had crazy stuff in it - turmeric (wow, okay, yeah, you just convinced me, gonna have to try it), carrots, cabbage. I tasted it. I didn't throw up, so that was good. It was pretty salty and tangy, but only a tiny bit revolting.
Since I am a glutton for punishment and think that you should always seek ways to subdue your body (no, not like a flagellant, just to increase self-discipline in general), I tried the other sauerkraut, too. Mmm. Salt. Psyche, that was sarcastic, it tasted like eating an entire teaspoon of salt (and not the good Celtic Sea salt, the horrid iodized and anti-caking kind). She also offered tempeh, so I tried it. It was actually good. Well, I am not sure if it was good. I thought of it as good, but then again, I had just put two different kinds of sauerkraut in my mouth, so take it for what it is.
And then...at the end of the table, lined up in tiny plastic sample cups was a deep purpley-red beverage. The product stood behind it. It said, "Heart Beet" beet kvass. A very small, half-invisible Sally Fallon instantly appeared and stood on my shoulder. She whispered into my ear, "Yummy, yummy, beet kvass! It's so good for you! Fermentation!!" I told the fermentation girl with the perfect complexion that I hated beets, but I have always wondered what beet kvass tasted like ever since Sally Fallon told me I should drink it in her book (I didn't tell her about the shoulder). I knew it was time to pull up the big girl panties and take a shot of this disgusting concoction. So I did. I didn't even die. It was bad, but not as bad as I thought it would be.
As we waxed and waned over Sandor Katz, Michael Pollan, and other pro-fermenters, lacto-fermentation, kombucha and kefir, I imagined myself drinking beet kvass on a daily basis. I thought that would give me good street cred. Or something. At least to myself in my own head. So I bought the beet kvass and the crazy sauerkraut and plan on spreading the health to the fam. (They're so excited.)
I came across an interesting sounding recipe if you are intrigued - it's over here. They combine it with ginger (anti-inflammatory! anti-cancer!) and some orange (probably so you don't gag as much).
Whaddya think? Would you try it?
Peace, love, and just beet it,