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KVAS: Drinks and Beverages of Russia

If you visit Russia in summer, you will find street vendors in every corner offering Kvas. Popular since ancient times, Kvas is a fermented non-alcoholic or mildly alcoholic beverage (under 2.2%) that can be made at home from a variety of vegetables and fruits. However, most homemade kvas is made from dried rye bread or barley, to which sugar and yeast is added to help fermentation. Many people add flavorings to kvas after making it. Mint is a favorite, but berries, raisins, or molasses are also popular. Commercial kvas is usually fruit-flavored, with apple and raspberry kvas being the most popular versions.

In ancient times, kvas was made from malt, rich in vitamin B, and used to treat colds and fevers, and to prevent scurvy during long winters when no other greens were available. Kvas is also said to protect against infectious disease. During the 16th century, it was used during cholera epidemic to both treat patients and protect the healthy population.

There are literally hundreds of variations of kvas. While all use the same ingredients, they do so in different proportions, resulting in very different flavors and consistencies. Kvas must be made from soft water and stored in wooden barrels (not glass bottles) with tight corks during the fermentation process.

In summer, Russians also use kvas as the essential ingredient to make "okroshka", a cold soup that consists of raw vegetables, eggs, and ham.

You'll recognize kvas because it is sold out of tanks or barrels on the street. The Russian name for kvas is KBAC.

 



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