September 12, 2012
Well, I made some kvass. As you can see, it turned out a lot lighter in color than the kvass in Ukraine. Those are raisins floating in it, in case you were wondering (I was, since I had forgotten about adding the raisins). I followed this recipe. Here's the dark rye bread I made to flavor the kvass:
Since I wanted carbonation, I followed the recipe variation that says "CAUTION: ONLY DO THIS IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING."
Now, I know what I'm doing, but after making kvass (and root beer and ginger beer previously), I can only conclude that making naturally carbonated sodas at home is scary and imprecise, especially if you're using glass bottles. The problem is: you want the soda to be sweet when done fermenting, so you add much more sugar than is needed for carbonation and plan to stop fermentation by putting the bottles in the fridge once there's enough carbonation. But fermentation times vary so much, it is hard to know when to fridge the bottles. If using a plastic bottle you can feel the pressure, but with our glass flip-tops, you can only know by opening them, thereby releasing the pressure. I fridged them after two days, but they had already fermented a lot and had to be opened carefully (I got sprayed in the face by the first one). At least there were no explosions... Some of the bottles required five whole minutes of bleeding pressure out before they could be safely opened!
Anyway, my strategy next time is to only add enough priming sugar to get the desired level of carbonation, and sweeten with an unfermentable sugar like xylitol or lactose. This is the strategy of cider-makers who want sweet cider without adding anything to kill the yeast, and beer-makers who add lactose (or originally whey) to make sweet milk stouts.
As for the flavor of the kvass, it wasn't as nice as I would have hoped. I might add molasses to the final product to give it a nice dark flavor. I did invent a kvass mixed drink: 1 glass of kvass + 1 shot of coffee liquer = caffass!