Beets and raw beet juice are typically recommended in limited amounts due to high sugar content.
However, when fermented, beets may be among the healthiest vegetables out there, as most of the sugar is then gobbled up by beneficial bacteria during the fermentation process while leaving other health-boosting ingredients intact.
Fermented foods are also chock-full of probiotics or good bacteria. A large number of studies have demonstrated how the ideal balance and diversity of bacteria in your gut forms the foundation for physical, mental and emotional well-being, and fermented beet juice has many additional benefits beyond probiotics.
Beets Have Powerful Immune-Boosting and Anti-Cancer Properties
The phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color also have powerful anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water.
Beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers.
In addition, raw beets help boost immune function thanks to high vitamin C, fiber, potassium and manganese, while the betalin pigments and sulfur-containing amino acids in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. Traditionally, beets have been valued for their ability to purify your blood and liver.
High in the B vitamin folate, beets may also lower your stroke risk and are an excellent food for pregnant women. Folate is essential for many bodily processes, and lack of folate during pregnancy raises the risk of birth defects. The blood-cleansing properties of beet kvass may also help alleviate morning sickness.
Why Ferment Your Beets?
Fermenting your beets rather than eating them raw gives you all the health-boosting benefits of raw beets — which are made even more bioavailable through fermentation — plus the beneficial bacteria and enzymes that result from fermentation.
Besides pickled beets and beet-infused sauerkraut, fermented beet juice, known as beet kvass is rising in popularity in the West.
Beet kvass has a long tradition of use in Russia, Ukraine and other eastern European countries, where it’s consumed therapeutically as a general health tonic. It’s also commonly added to soups, sauces and vinaigrettes.
Traditionally, beet kvass has been used to boost immune function, cleanse blood, combat fatigue and treat kidney stones, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems. Anecdotal reports suggest beet kvass may even improve the appearance of age spots, thicken hair and minimize graying of hair.
Recent animal research confirms the gastrointestinal benefits of lactofermented beetroot juice, showing it helps improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity.
Because of its detoxifying properties, avoid drinking too much when first starting out. Doing so could result in an overload of released toxins, producing bloating, constipation and/or cold or flu symptoms.
As a general recommendation, start out with 1 ounce per day, gradually increasing the amount to an 8-ounce glass per day. If you’re highly toxic, you may need to start out with as little as a tablespoon.
Simple Beet Kvass Recipe
A number of beet kvass recipes can be found online.
•2 large raw organic beets, cut into 1-inch cubes. Do not grate them, as this will release too much sugar.
You do not need to peel the beets if they’re organic, unless you really want to, as the skin contains many bacteria that drive the fermentation. If using conventionally grown beets, peeling may be advisable to avoid pesticide residues
•3 tablespoons of sauerkraut juice or pickle juice
•Filtered water, spring water or distilled water, freshly squeezed beet juice, or a combination of beet juice and pure water.
Tap water tainted by chlorine or other chemicals will not work, as the chemicals will prevent fermentation and cause rotting instead. If using tap water, be sure to boil it first and let it cool before using
•Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of natural unrefined salt, such as sea salt, or my personal favorite, Himalayan salt. The salt helps prevent bad bacteria from forming, but too much will make the drink unpalatable
Place the beets in a large-mouth mason jar, filing the jar about one-third of the way. Add sauerkraut or pickle juice, salt and water/beet juice, leaving 2 inches of space between the top of the liquid and the lid. Cover tightly and shake well to dissolve the salt.
Keep at room temperature for three to five days. In winter months, the fermentation process may take up to seven days due to colder room temperatures. Keep the lid tightly closed, but remember to release pressure daily.
If froth, scum or mold develops, simply skim it off the top with a spoon. Do a daily taste test, and when the kvass has developed a pleasing taste, place it in the refrigerator to stop the fermenting process. Fizzy bubbles rising to the top is a sign that it’s ready.