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I took 4 medium beets, chopped them up in a medium dice, put the beets in a 1-gallon Pickl-It jar. I added 1 ½ tablespoon unrefined sea salt, added filtered water to ½ inch below lid, and closed with an airlock.

I allowed this to ferment for 1 ½ weeks in darkness. I then tasted it, and the taste was bad, like an acidic fizzy vinegar. I have tried this many times, and I keep getting this same result.

Any ideas on what Im doing wrong?

PS I found the recipe here http://bit.ly/1hdbx7S

  • Googling around I see recipes using half as much water with the same salt, and comments that if you're not going to use whey or sauerkraut juice, to double the salt. – Carey Gregory Feb 26 '14 at 5:29
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    @CareyGregory that sounds probable as more salt will stall the lactic acid producing bacteria. It sounds like the bacteria in the kvass is having too good a time. – daramarak Feb 26 '14 at 22:15
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The recipe's goal is to use the natural bacteria in the beets and beet peels to cause the fermentation. The thing about using natural bacteria is that you never know what these are going to be, so it's a crapshoot what flavors you are going to get. Beets produced in one farm may have radically different bacteria in them, different varieties grown in the same patch of land could also vary significantly. It's the same process as making a sourdough bread starter using natural yeasts - you may get a nice smooth and delicate flavor, or you could get something that will take the paint off of a door. The point is that you may be doing everything right, it's just that's what you are going to get from the process.

Looking at the science of the natural yeasts and assuming the recipe writer is not talking complete BS, it could be that the delicate bacteria spoken of in the recipe is being out-competed by the other natural bacteria in the water you use, and on the surface of the container, lid, and airlock. The thing to do in this case is to reduce or eliminate these other bacteria so that the beet bacteria will be the only game in town. To do this use sterilized water (buy distilled or simply boil your water for a few minutes before letting it cool completely), or run your water through a filter which will remove or kill bacteria. Then use a chlorine solution to sterilize every single piece of equipment you will use. That means the container, lid, lock, spoons - anything that will come into contact must be very clean. Wash your beets in sterilized water as well. I'd do that to the equipment even if I used a culture, it will increase my chances of a good result.

If that doesn't work you may have to accept that is the way natural kvass will taste. It could be that the writer of the article likes it that way, or simply doesn't know what he/she is talking about. In that case consider using a culture - there's no dishonor in it and you'll get something drinkable.

  • This isn't really necessary (and might even be counter-productive - using bleach means you have to rinse everything thoroughly, which means you risk introducing bacteria from your tap water). It would probably be better to use a no-rinse brewing sanitizer like Star San. – user5561 Mar 1 '14 at 18:38
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You are doing fermentation without a domesticated culture. It is normal that wild microbial cultures won't have any refined taste.

But a high amount of both acetic acid and CO2 is expected for most prolonged fermentation processes. So, what exactly did you expect beside that, that you are saying it is not good?

  • When I say it tastes bad, I am saying that now it tastes like vinegar. I have made kvass before, and it normally tastes great. – davidjhp Feb 26 '14 at 20:49
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I can't tell you why the vinegar taste, but I can tell you what works for me. I never taste until 1 month and usually ferment for 2. No matter what anyone says, the flavor is better when the ferment is longer. I also add ginger and orange. I e heard the citrus helps combat the growth of icky bacteria. I have removed mold from he top of my kvass and still had a good tasting, drinkable kvass. I also use 1tbsp salt and 1/4 cup of ginger beet sourkraut juice instead of double salt. So far it works Everytime. Flavor varies because of beets, how hot it is, etc. but always good. Even my husband drinks it!;)

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