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Kvas Story

Kvas is a healthy, refreshing bread-based drink that dates to over 1000 years ago in Eastern Europe. Nestor, the author of a history of Kievan Rus’ from about 850–1110, describes the baptism of Prince Vladimir in 989 and the accompanying celebrations with food, honey in barrels, and bread-kvas.

The fact that Nestor identified the beverage without additional explanation suggests that by that time, the drink already was commonplace among the Slavs. For centuries thereafter in Russia, peasants and aristocrats alike drank kvas, which they believed had certain healing properties, some of which modern science has substantiated. Aside from its health benefits, it also served as a safe alternative to drinking plain, unpurified water.

The choice of bread used in making kvas influences both the color and the flavor of the drink. Typically, recipes call for black bread, specifically rye or pumpernickel. Toasting the bread before placing it in boiling water enhances the flavor and helps keep the bread intact. Like sourdough bread, kvas has a somewhat sour taste due to a natural fermentation process that occurs by adding either rye sourdough starter or active dry yeast and sugar. The starter or yeast breaks down the sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide, which naturally carbonates the kvas. Adding raisins provides additional natural yeast and enhances the overall flavor.

Here we provide you a standard, no-frills kvas recipe, but you can find numerous variations that incorporate other ingredients such as berries, citrus, apples, or mint.

Submitted by Professor Dr. Tony Brown, German and Russian

History of Kvas

Voiced by: Tony Brown

@byuhumanities Guys, I swear, it isn’t beer. Look at the recipe (link in our linktree) if you don’t believe me. 🍞 #byuhonorcode #itsnotbeer #cookbook #humanities #humanitiesmajor #byu ♬ original sound - byuhumanities
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