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Kvass – Traditional Russian Drink

Kvass - Traditional Russian Drink

Kvass is a traditional Russian drink which appeared in Russia long time ago. It was drunk daily by all people in Russia regardless of their wealth or social status. The drink was very nutritious and had a sour-sweet taste. Today, kvass is a soft drink, but in ancient times it used to be as strong as wine. Kvass also used to me the main drink during festivities or at funerals. People in Old Russia believed that kvass has certain healing properties. So, they gave it to people who were seriously ill.

Origins of Kvass

Kvass was first mentioned in the year of 989, when the Kiev Prince Vladimir ordered to treat people with honey and kvass. The farmer Solodkin is believed to have been the person who invented the method for making the original Russian kvass. The grain he was keeping in his barn accidentally got wet. In order to dry the grain, Solodkin took it out and put it under the sun. Thanks to the heat and moisture, the grain sprouted. Therefor he had nothing to do but to grind it into flour.  Then Solodkin kneaded the dough from the flour, but it did not grow in volume. On the contrary, the dough decreased by half, since malt is not yeast. His attempts to bake bread failed, as the bread was sour and half-baked.

Origins of Kvass

To make the situation better, Solodkin put the dough in water, hoping that water would take away the sour taste from the dough. However, after a couple of days the dough fell to the bottom, and the fermented water had a nice taste: sour and hopped. That was the first kvass.

Origins of the name “kvass”

“Kvass” is an original Russian word which means “sour drink” and characterizes the taste of the drink.

How kvass was made in Russia

There used to be thousands of recipes for making kvass in Russia. The drink was made using such grain as rye, oats, millet, barley. Firstly, the grain was soaked, then sprouted, dried, ground, then the kvass was made. In old times, it took a long time to make kvass. It sometimes took up to 70 days. People used to always have kvass at home. They poured it into barrels and kept it in the cellar.

Kvass - Traditional Russian Drink

Where kvass was made

Kvass was made everywhere: in cities and villages, at hospitals and barracks. It was also brewed commercially at kvass breweries. The profession of kvass brewer was very prestigious. They experimented with the drink, adding various fruits and berries such as apples, pears, cranberries, etc. to it.

Various herbs such as wormwood, tutsan, hop, etc. were also added to kvass. Then currant, raspberry, strawberry, and mint leaves were added. Rye kvass with herbs was considered a drink for the poor. Honey kvass was the best and most expensive types of kvass.

Where kvass was made

What kvass was drunk with

In the past, kvass was drunk with radish, rye bread, and green onions. This meal was believed to have satisfied hunger and thirst well.  This type of meal was traditional during the lent. In the lent period people drank kvass three times a day.

That’s all about kvass and its origin. We hope you liked the article about the traditional Russian drink.

Kvass - Traditional Russian Drink

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