Kvass is a popular drink in Russia, having been enjoyed there for nearly 1,000 years. However, more and more people in the west are getting a taste of this tangy Russian beverage. Its taste is comparable to that of a root beer or ginger ale, yet kvass is uniquely its own flavor and has a mass appeal.
Many people have never heard of Kvass, let alone know what it is and what it is made from. So what exactly is Kvass? Well Kvass is a fermented drink that is made from dark sourdough rye bread. During fermentation, it turns dark brown and bubbly and takes on a beer-like taste. It can be flavored using strawberries, cherries, lemons, and herbs, meaning that the flavor combinations are endless. Though it goes through a fermentation process, it is widely referred to as non-alcoholic, though it could turn alcoholic when left to ferment longer.
In Russia, there are no parties without Kvass to drink. It is a signature party staple of both the rich and poor alike. It is often common for Russian soldiers to carry a container full of the beverage in war time. They used it during the cholera epidemic because it was known for its protections against infectious diseases. Even those that shared cups with those infected, had a very low chance of contacting cholera. Since this time, it has been used in many home remedies and natural healing recipes.
If you have never tried Kvass, there are many health reasons why it may be a good idea to try it. In traditional form, Kvass can be very good for the body. It is full of B vitamins, and is often used to treat digestive problems. The digestive aid agents in Kvass are useful for dealing with diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and nausea. The beneficial bacteria, brought out by the fermentation process, helps the destroy disease causing microbes in the intestines as well.
Kvass has also long been known for being able to boost the immune system. People who drink Kvass tend to resist infections, illness, and disease because of the nutrients found within it. There are commercial versions of this popular drink popping up everywhere. However, it is important to note here that these versions are typically only flavored to taste like Kvass, and have not actually gone through the fermentation process.
For Kvass beverages that are more authentic, sometimes they can be two sweet and contain too many calories to consider it a healthy drink. Finding an authentic version of this drink may still be difficult in North America, but it does exist and is worth a try. It has a tangy and slightly sweet taste that really quenches the thirst.
If you are lucky enough to live near a Russian specialty shop, your chances of getting a hold of a traditional cup of Kvass is great. Drinking it fresh is recommended, as it has a short three-week shelf life after fermentation.