This classic kvass is made with sweet apple juice and fermented to bubbly, tangy perfection. A classic Slavic refreshment that can be enjoyed by the whole family!
This recipe for kvass comes straight from my mother’s cookbook. She used to make it for us as kids during apple season and we would go back for glass after glass. Largely known as the national drink of Russia, this beverage is served as a refreshment at most Slavic get-togethers. A must-try!
What is Kvass?
Kvass is a traditional Slavic drink. Both children and adults are obsessed with its fizzy, fermented deliciousness. In its most authentic form, it’s made with rye bread and birch sap. This recipe provides a way to achieve the same great taste with a fraction of the effort. Below, find a rundown of the flavor, texture, and time.
- Flavor: The flavor can vary on the process, however, you’ll find most kvass taste similar to kombucha, while slightly less tangy and more fermented.
- Texture: The texture can be compared to a naturally fermented kombucha. You’ll love the fizziness!
- Time: From start to finish, it takes anywhere from 1-2 days to make. If you like it extra bubbly you’ll want to ferment the beverage for two days. If you like it a bit more mild, 1 day will do the trick.
Is Kvass Alcoholic?
Because it’s fermented, many people wonder if kvass is considered alcoholic. It’s not! Similar to kombucha, it contains less than 1% of alcohol, making it safe to be consumed by kids and adults alike.
How to Make Slavic Kvass
Making this Slavic staple only requires a bit of mixing and patience for the fermentation process. Below, find a brief overview of the recipe before you dive in.
- Mix the Ingredients: In a large, sealable commercial storage container, mix the warm water, apple juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, instant coffee, and yeast together until well-combined.
- Cover and Ferment: Cover the container with a lid and let the kvass ferment for 24-48 hours depending on the level of fermentation you prefer.
- Refrigerate and Serve: Transfer the kvass into a sealable pitcher or individual bottles. Refrigerate, serve cold, and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
Below, find a couple of pro tips and tricks to help you make the best, most refreshing kvass.
- Allow it to ferment in a warm place. Before you refrigerate and serve kvass, you’ll want to let it ferment in a warm place. A couple of examples include your garage (except during winter of course!), on top of the dryer, or close to a heating vent.
- Ferment it longer if you like tang. The longer you let the kvass ferment, the more fermented and tangy it will be. Feel free to experiment with fermentation times as you see fit!
- Store it in a sealable pitcher or jar. To prevent the beverage from soaking up the smells in your refrigerator, store it in a sealable pitcher or jar.
- Refrigerator (Pitcher): You can store kvass in a sealable pitcher for up to 10 days. As it sits, it will continue to ferment and the colors will deepen.
- Refrigerator (Bottles): If you want to have some grab-and-go bottles, feel free to store your kvass in some sealable glass bottles. They will also keep for up to 10 days.
This kvass can be served alongside just about any meal. Much like kombucha, it’s a refreshing drink that is great for those times when you need a sweet and fizzy pick-me-up.
What does kvass taste like?
The flavor of kvass greatly differs on the technique and the manufacturer. Most of the commercially available kvass tastes closer to fermented cola drink, while the traditional (proper) and homemade recipes taste like a mix between beer and kombucha.
Is kvass the same thing as kombucha?
While both are fermented beverages, kvass and kombucha are not the same. To ferment kvass, you rely on the natural sugars and yeast breaking down through a process called lacto fermentation. On the other hand, kombucha requires you to make culture, referred to as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to power the fermentation process.
When should I drink kvass?
Kvass is generally consumed as a refreshing drink, think of soda. You can find it sold at lemonade stands in European countries. It’s also common to consume alongside dinner or a feast.
Can kvass go bad?
Kvass will go bad after about 10 days. It will turn strong and bitter.
More Drink Recipes
- Citrus and Mint Infused Water – Refreshing flavored water
- Homemade Kompot Drink – Popular Slavic juice beverage
- Sparkling Mango Drink Recipe – Carbonated and blended mango drink
- 10 qt warm water
- 1 qt apple juice
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 2 tbsp dry yeast
We never have instant coffee, I don’t want to buy it, it’s pretty bad, can we use something else?
Hey Yelena, I have not tried making it with out coffee or replaced it with other things. If you come up with something, please let me know. Thank you!
I really enjoyed making this recipe! Lived in KG/UA/LT for a total of 10 years. Have been very nostalgic, obviously, these past months. And although I can get kvass at a local shop, it's never quite right. I had to halve the recipe and then halve again the water due to lack of enormous eastern pot 🙂 and then I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup and it is exactly how I wanted it. Perfect!
Hi Ebs - That's awesome! Kvass is a drink that always brings me back to my childhood. I'm glad you were able to make this recipe your own and I hope you find more that bring you back to your days in Eastern Europe. 🙂
Does the birch sap come from sweet birch trees? I have some growing where I live,the sap tastes like wintergreen. I make my own maple syrup in the early spring and the birch sap flows at the same time.
I believe so, Charlie, but I'm not entirely sure. I would love to have fresh maple syrup! I'm jealous over here.
What kind of yeast is used? I assume it is bread yeast but there is also wine and beer yeast. Each would give it a unique flavor.
Hi Charlie - Just standard bread yeast is all you need. Hope this helps and thanks for the question!
Какой яблочный сок вы использовали? Homemade?
Hi Maryna - Any store bought apple juice will work! You don't need to use homemade. Hope this helps!
Hi, What is the best way to store this kvass? Would it keep well in dark glass bottles?
It would keep well in any container but don't seal the lid all the way. It will continue brewing as it sits.
hi, do you have a birch tree kvas recipe?
Hi Lily, oh gosh, you just took me to me childhood. Mom use to make it all the time when we lived in Ukraine. Where would you get birch tree juice here? I would of love some, we have never made the kvas here in USA.
well we have a neighbor over here that has a birch tree but i just wish i knew how to make one before i ask their permission for the trees juice & yeahh in Ukraine my family use to make them also, i miss it so much because it was soooooooo good =)...there isn't many options in USA to make birch tree kvas so i understand & even the hazelnuts trees are hard to find, which to me tastes much better off the tree then store bought anyway thank you for the response Natalya.
Doesn't juice come only in a spring time? Now I really want to look into this 🙂
yeahh, my dad also told me it has to be cold for birch trees to produce juice but i guess it has to be extracted from the tree in early spring...i honestly don't remember i was really young when i left Ukraine to remember how this works lol =).
I try it and I love it.... Thanks a lot
Glad you guys loved it! We have a sauna at home and guys love it when I make it 🙂
Thanks Natasha. I will give it a try..
What kind of instant coffee do i need to use? Which apple cider vinegar regular yellow or organic or white vinegar?
Please let me know Natasha.
You can see it in the picture. But there is no specific brand of coffee needed, just any of your favorite instant. For the vinegar, as long as it apple vinegar, it will work.
Thank you, I heard about this recipe 10 years ago and never asked the person who made it. I have been looking for it ever since.
I hope you love it. So far we have been sticking to this one for years because it's so easy and so good.
do i cover it with anything? and what warm place do you mean?
I usually cover with a lid but not all tight. You can keep it in a room temperature if its warm at home. Or place it on top of a laundry dryer, next to heating, or on top of a fridge. It just has to be a little warm.
u need 10 quarts of water and only 1 quart of apple juice?
Yes, that is correct.
I haven't tasted difference. Recently I been using plastic, before I used metal pot.
Does it make a difference if I use a big metal pot? or is plastic or glass better?