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Kvass
July 6, 2011 00:29


Traditional Russian kvass is one of the best refreshing and most natural soft drinks. The very word “kvass” is undoubtedly of Russian origin and means “sour drink”, or “fermented drink”. Though it is pungent rather than sour. Kvass based on bread fermentation has been a traditional drink for many centuries for Russians. It is also used as the liquid base for famous Russian cold soups, namely Okroshka and Botvinya. Archeologists date the origins of kvass brewing to 8000 years B.C. at least. Kvass was most probably invented simultaneously with baking of bread – after all they are based on similar processes. In Russia the first record of kvass dates to the year 989, when the Kievan Prince Vladimir converted Russian people into Christianity. The chronicles contain his order on that occasion: “to distribute food, honey and kvass to people”.

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Real heyday of kvass making in Russia fell on the 15th-16th centuries. During that epoch all the social estates and classes – from tsars to poor men – drank kvass. On average every Russian drank 200 to 250 liters of kvass per year. There were lots of kvass varieties: red, white, sweet, sour, mint, honey, berry and so on, with uncountable local variations.

The kvass made of rye and barley malt boasts not only high flavoring qualities, but is also invigorating and normalizing metabolism. Its effect on the human body is similar to that of kefir, curdled milk, koumiss and acidophilus milk. Kvass regulates work of a gastrointestinal path, interferes with reproduction of harmful and pathogenic microbes, tones the body, and has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. These curative properties are due to the presence of dairy acid, vitamins, free amino acids, various sugars and micronutrients.

In Russia kvass has always been in favour. It was made in monasteries and soldier's barracks, in hospitals, in landowners’ manors and peasants’ log huts (izba). The methods of kvass making, as well as baking of bread, were known in every house. Centuries-old experience has shown that kvass promotes good health and increases working capacity.

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As early as the beginning of the 20th century peasants used to drink kvass along with bread, radish and onions 3 times a day on fasting days and 2 times a day in the Non-Lenten season. They drank kvass during work, after work, before meal and after meal. Kvass was an every-day drink.

Ther ewere also certain interdictions for kvass making. Thus, in Kupyansky District of the Kharkov Province they believed that after the Easter mermaid go out of the water and come to houses to bathe in grain kvass if it is made on Thursday. In Oboyansk District of the same province of imperial Russia it was a custom not to make kvass on Monday; otherwise, they believed, the devil could come and bathe his children in it. According to Ukrainian superstitions, devils bathe in kvass, milk and other drinks, since they cannot bathe in water, because it was consecrated by Christ the Savior.

Old recipes of making kvass are quite a difficult, labor-consuming and time-taking procedure. Starting from grain soaking, sprouting and steaming to drying, grinding and preparation of malt it takes more than 70 days. However, nowadays one can buy a kvass concentrate, which makes it very simple to make kvass.

Just about 20 years ago a trailer tank with kvass, surrounded with people carrying jars and canisters was a habitual detail of the summer city landscape. This refreshing and thirst-quenching drink was popular among solid officials and busy housewives, workers and students. Children of different generations adored kvass especially that we did not have synthetic Pepsi or Coca-Cola available then.

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Source:
stgetman.narod.ru
afizika.ru
kvas.ru


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Kvass Russian Cuisine Russian Drinks   

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