Friday, December 4, 2009

discovery of kvas

Woot! It's bread in a glass! I was at the highly multicultural HT Oaktree Market and strolled past a pallet of big plastic bottles covered with Cyrillic letters, barley stalks, and a big bearded dude holding a wicker mug. There was some English, too: CLASSIC KVAS and UNIQUE OLD RECIPES. For $1.50 I wasn't about to pass that up, though I hadn't the faintest idea what it was.

Turns out that Kvas is an ancient fermented beverage made of black or rye bread, and sometimes flavored with fruit. It has long been popular in eastern European countries. The alcohol content is very low.

The recent history of Kvas is that the big soft drink makers have been trying to horn in on the action, leading to Kvas-like things that are mass produced and don't use traditional methods. What I bought is made in Ukraine by Danilo. The ingredients make it clear that this is one of those cola-like products: water, sugar, glucose-fructose syrup (I think that's high-fructose corn syrup, or perhaps derived from beets), carbon dioxide, and kvas concentrate based on rye malt. It is non-alcoholic.

While it's surely not authentic, it perhaps gives me a reasonable idea of what a kvas might be like. It has a malty aroma, is moderately sweet, and is moderately carbonated. I quite like it. It's pretty highly caloric, at 86 calories per 8 ounces. That's basically like any sugary soda.

I'm going to have to visit a European foods market and try to find a real kvas. And it looks easy enough to make it at home. Here are some recipes:

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