“Русский квас много народу спас” (Russian kvass saved many people) is one of the many expressions to express the feelings Russians have about their national drink.
Квас (kvass), “yeast” or “leaven” in Old East Slavic, это очень древний и традиционный безалкогольный напиток (is a very ancient and traditional non-alcoholic drink) made out of black or regular rye bread. It was first mentioned in летописи (the Old Russian Chronicles) in the year 989, when relating how киевский князь Владимир обратил своих подданных в христианство (Prince Vladimir the Great, celebrating the Christianization of Kievan Russ) offered kvass to all the assembly.
With less than 1.2% of alcohol, it is classified as non-alcoholic by Russian standards. Kvass can be домашнего приготовления (home-made), as it is very simple and quick to prepare. But you can also find some заводского изготовления (factory-made) versions which are quite good. Kvass is often flavoured with dry fruits or herbs.
In the past century, people couldn’t live without kvass. They would drink it all day long, before and after meal, during work and to relax after work. Квас был напитком каждого дня (kvass was an everyday drink).
Kvass is enjoyed by children and adults alike, especially in summer time, as it is a very refreshing drink. It is easy to recognise kvass vendors in the streets with their beautiful yellow stations. You can find them not only in Russia, but in all countries of the former USSR, in Easter and Central Europe.
Kvass is used as the main ingredient for a cold soup with chopped vegetables and meat, called окрошка (okroshka), which is just wonderful in summer.
Thank you very much to Elena Vasilievna Bulanova for giving us her own secret recipe for preparing kvass.
Enjoy your meal!