Fermented Borscht

Borscht is a beet soup of Ukrainian (борщ) origin. In Russian it is spelled the same way (борщ) and in Poland it is known as barszcz. It is pronounced almost the same in most Eastern and Central European countries so there is no question where borsch comes from. Borsch was always popular among Jews who added letter “t” at the end and it is known as borscht in the US.

There is a hot and cold version of borscht and both versions are made by cooking beets what deprives them of many beneficial nutrients. You can, however, skip cooking beets altogether and ferment them instead. Red beets ferment easily and are delicious, so it should not come as a surprise that borscht can be made without cooking, by fermentation alone.

Beets without stalks and leaves

Materials. For fermented borscht use beets without stalks and leaves.

Young dill which we see in supermarkets is not the best choice for fermenting as they often spoil. Mature dill has more flavor and does not spoil. Mature dill on top in the photo.


  • Beets, 1 kg (2.2 lb), peeled and diced
  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Horseradish, 2 large slices
  • Mature dill stems, about six 4 inch pieces


  • Water, 750 ml (25.4 oz fl)
  • Salt, 15 g (2.5 tsp)


  1. Make brine by dissolving salt in water.
  2. Wash beets and peel off the skin. Cut into discs or dice them.
  3. Peel of horseradish and garlic. Cut horseradish and dill into smaller sections.
  4. Place beets in a glass jar, add horseradish, garlic and dill.
  5. Fill with brine, place the lid and tighten. Let it ferment at room temperature for at least one week. You can eat itat any time, but in 4 days it develops its real character.
  6. For longer storage place fermented borscht in refrigerator.

Ready to Eat Borscht

This fermented beet base can be used for many dishes:

  • Cold borscht – add some sour cream and vegetables.
  • Add it to a chicken stock and make a delicious beet soup.
  • Use beets for salads.

You can use it to make delicious Lithuanian Beet Cooler Soup without cooking preserving all nutrients and vitamins.

NOTE beets and beet juice are rich in nitrates and are credited with lowering blood pressure when consumed on a regular basis. They help to detoxify the liver.

Stems and flowers can be used

Both, stems and flowers are flavorsome and can be used, however using stems only will result in a clearer juice.

beets covered in juice

After a few days beets are covered in juice

Fermented beet juice

Fermented beet juice is delicious as it has some acidity.

After a week fermented beets and juice have enough acidity to make uncooked borscht or delicious Lithuanian Beet Cooler Soup.

The advantage of using fermented beets for making soups is that there is no cooking involved and all vitamins and nutrients are preserved. Fermented beets are softer and the juice tastes perfect. You can think of fermented beet borscht as a soup stock which can be enriched with additional ingredients.

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