Kvas – Квас
If you visit one of the Eastern European countries in the summer, chances are that you’ll see many street vendors selling kvas. Usually, they are vehicles with barrel or tank like attachments parked in many different locations in the city. As you come up to buy yourself this treat, the seller will pour you a cup of this cold, foaming and sweet treat right out of the spigot. In the past, kvas was mostly sold in the summer, but now you can buy in year round, in bottled form in grocery stores.
Kvas is a sweet, fermented beverage, made from black or rye bread. It’s absolutely delicious and refreshing, with a bit of carbonation. Most recipes for kvas start with making a starter with toasted bread cubes, water, sugar and yeast. After a day or two, it is added to more water, sugar and toasted bread mixture, and stands around intensifying in concentration, flavor and carbonation for at least another 24 hours. Lastly, the mixture is strained and becomes this amber drink that is enjoyed so much by the Slavic population. It’s considered non-alcoholic, since the alcohol content is so low.
My mom has an incredible recipe for Kvas. It’s the best one I’ve ever tasted. And guess what? It’s a much easier and much shorter process than I just described. The secret ingredient is a malt beverage that is very easily found in most American grocery stores. It’s actually a Latin American beverage that has become popular in the US as well. Because it is made from similar ingredients as bread, it has exactly the same flavor that we need for kvas. I usually mix it up the night before a party and it’s ready to serve in 24 hours or so.
4 liters (about 16 cups), warm water, plus 1 cup for yeast
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for yeast
24-28 oz Malta beverage
Malta is a malt beverage. You can find it in most grocery stores. It can also be called Malta Goya. Here’s what it looks like. Some packages come in 12 oz bottles each and others are 7 oz each. If the bottles are 12 oz, use 2 and if the bottles are 7 oz, use 4 bottles.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add about a teaspoon of sugar. Mix to combine and set aside for about 5 minutes, until the yeast starts foaming.
The sugar will “feed” the yeast and help it start dancing and working.
In a large container, pitcher or even a stockpot, pour in 4 liters of water and the Malta. Add the yeast mixture and then the sugar.
Mix well, until the sugar dissolves. Allow it to stand at room temperature overnight. The next morning place it in the refrigerator and serve when it has chilled. The Kvas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- 4 liters, plus 1 cup warm water for yeast
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 cups sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for yeast
- 24-28 oz Malta beverage
- Malta is a malt beverage. You can find it in most grocery stores. It can also be called Malta Goya.Some packages come in 12 oz bottles each and others are 7 oz each. If the bottles are 12 oz, use 2 and if the bottles are 7 oz, use 4 bottles.
- Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add about a teaspoon of sugar. Mix to combine and set aside for about 5 minutes, until the yeast starts foaming.
- In a large container, pitcher or even a stockpot, pour in 4 liters of water and the Malta.
- Add the yeast mixture and then the sugar. Mix well, until the sugar dissolves.
- Allow it to stand at room temperature overnight.
- The next morning place it in the refrigerator and serve when it has chilled. The Kvas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Looks delicious! I’ve been looking for a good kvas recipe, can’t wait to try yours out. 🙂
Thanks, Yelena! I just stopped over to see your website. It looks great! I’ll take some time to browse your recipes as well. I love the design of your blog and the pictures look phenomenal.
Which store do u buy melta at? Cant find it at fredys or winco, thank you 🙂
I see them in practically every grocery store in our area. Publix, Winn Dixie, Walmart, Aldi, etc. However, I know that the stock in grocery stores vary across the country. I don’t know where you would find it where you live.
Malta can be found in any Hispanic grocery store. The most common brand is Goya but there are others. Good luck finding!
Natasha of Natashaskitchen.com
Oh I’ve never tried with Malta before. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂
You’re welcome, Natasha! I love the taste of this Kvas.
Hey Olga ,Thanks for sharing the recipe. made this the other day but I do have a questions. After placing it in the refrigerator do I need to cover the kvas??? It was very good, but it was not as foamy as you show in the picture any idea why mine was not like that ???
Yes, Mirachka, you should cover it. If you want the kvas to foam, just whisk it up a bit. As it settles, it won’t be as foamy as if you mix it up before pouring it.
Thank You 🙂
I live in Kentucky and I can’t find Malta Goya…..even in Walmart.
I am not familiar with grocery stores in Kentucky. In Florida, it’s a very common ingredient that can be found in ANY grocery store. When I lived in upstate NY state, it was very easy to find it there as well. It’s possible that Malta is not sold in Kentucky; I don’t know.
I can`t find Malta drink. Which store you buy it ? I looked in Walmart and Kroger
I’ve bought it in many different stores. Walmart, Publix, Aldi, local farmer’s markets, Sweetbay, Winn Dixie, etc. It’s very common in our area.
I also have another recipe or kvas. Im not sure where it originated from but everyone I know uses this recipe. Its so simple its actually made form apple juice and apple cider vinegar. I don’t have the recipe right now but I’ll get it and send it to you. You should definitely try it. It’s the best I ever tried and it’s so easy to make.
I’ve actually tried that version of Kvas too:).
olga, ive made your version before and it worked out perfect! Now the 2nd time around…maybe its only been 12 hrs but im not smelling like the yeast in it..like i did the first time. Is it possible yeast didnt work? Should i wait it out or try a new batch.
Hmmm. Sometimes it takes longer, because of the yeast, or the room isn’t warm enough, etc.
However, maybe the yeast isn’t as active, and it might not work. It depends. Did it foam when you set it aside in a cup before adding it to the rest of the mixture? If it did, it should still work, if not, it probably won’t work.
hey olga! so i ended up making a new batch. I researched several websites on making kvass,, one interesting thing i learned is that if you use too warm of water- you ended killing the yeast. lol thats what happen in my case. So i tried again, and made sure it was a room temperature like you stated,, and it came out perfect.
That’s great! I’m glad you figured it out. I always use room temperature water for kvas and if I use yeast in bread, etc. I measure the temperature, it should be somewhere between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit, not higher than 115 degrees:).
Hi Olga do you need to cover it when yyou let it stand at room temperature overnight. Thank you.
You probably don’t “need” to, but I always like to cover any food, so I do cover the kvas too.
hey, do you have a kwas recipe for Okroschka .. i’ve heard the kwas for Okroschka should not be that sweet.
No, I do not, Kate. Sorry.
Thanks so much for this recipe, it’s amazing!! I’m a history nerd, and I’ve been wanting to try kvas since I read about it in a biography of Alexander Suvorov. If I was a soldier assigned to building forts in Finland, I would have had absolutely no qualms about drinking kvas all day instead of the questionable water. 🙂