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Classic Russian Kvass (Bread Kvass)

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A bottle of classic Russian kvass

When it comes to tasty probiotic beverages, the people of Russia may have perfected the art. Classic Russian Kvass is both thrifty – how often do you find yourself with stale ends of bread? – and delicious. This recipe isn’t drastically different from a beer recipe. While the alcohol content will be very low, it’s not non-existent, so use your judgment in consuming or serving kvass to others.

Authenticity asks for a dark bread – rye, black bread, something along those lines – but I’ve made kvass with all sorts of bread bits over the years, including English Muffins. It’s actually quite a flexible recipe, so feel free to use what’s on hand.


  • 4-6 slices of well toasted rye bread
  • 8 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust according to taste). Sub honey if you prefer.
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • Small handful raisins
  • Optional flavoring agents, like a few sprigs of mint, pieces of fruit, or slivers of citrus peels.
  • Bottles or jars. Plastic bottles are preferred, as kvass produces quite a bit of carbon dioxide as it ferments.


  1. Put eight cups of water onto the stove and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating up, toast the bread until it’s fairly charred. This step gives you a darker kvass with a richer flavor profile.
  3. Turn the heat off of the boiling water and add the toasted bread and the small handful of raisins. Cover the pot and let the mixture steep overnight, or for at least eight hours.
  4. After the steeping period, remove the bread and discard or compost it. It’s okay to let it drip from a strainer, but avoid squeezing water out of the bread to limit cloudiness in the final product.
  5. Add sugar and yeast to the pot and mix well. Add any of the optional flavoring agents. Cover again, and let it sit for another eight hours.
  6. Remove and discard the raisins and flavoring agents, then transfer the kvass into bottles or jars. Refrigerate over night, and then begin enjoying your kvass!
A glass of classic Russian kvass

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