Russian Fermented Oatmeal Drink – Ovsyaniy Kissel

Kissel – an ancient Russian drink. Now it’s prepared with potato or corn starch from fruits and berries. In the old days it was prepared from fermented decoction or extract of oats, peas, wheat or rye.

In 997, the Pechenegs besieged town of Belgorod (my native city). Because of hunger residents decided to surrender to enemies, but someone had wise advise – cook from the remnants of oat kissel and put it into a well. When Pecheneg’s envoys arrived, citizens scooped out kissel from the well and ate it. Pechenegs decided that they can not conquer the people whom Earth itself feeds.

And this is an ancient way of cooking oat kissel: oats were dried, crushed, mixed with warm water and left for about a day, strained through a sieve and squeezed. Often oat milk fermented with rye bread crust. And then cooked.

Unusual taste, they say: fall in love or hate it.

Russian Fermented Oatmeal Drink - Ovsyaniy Kissel

Yield: 2 serving

1 cup oat (I used Quaker’s)
3 cups hot water
2 tbsp. starter from kvass or piece of rye bread (optional)
For serve: 2 tbsp. honey or sugar

Put oatmeal in a jar, pour over hot water and stir thoroughly. Let cool a little, add starter or piece of good rye bread or nothing. Leave to swell for 6-8 hours or overnight. This step adds some sour taste and healthy options, but can be omitted – just let oat cool to room temperature. Strain oat “milk” through a sieve and squeeze well.

Cook on low heat, stirring regularly until thick. Usually just bringing to boil is enough. Let cool, covered with kitchen towel (to avoid the formation of a crust on the surface) and completely cool in fridge. Serve with honey or sugar on top.

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6 Responses to “Russian Fermented Oatmeal Drink – Ovsyaniy Kissel”

  1. […] I mentioned already – kissel – an ancient Russian drink or dessert. Today it’s prepared with potato starch from […]

  2. […] further research on kissel, I found this helpful write up which picked my interest even more.  Turns out that the original kissel was basically a fermented […]

  3. Hello Olga! What an interesting recipe. I never heard about it and very curious. We love fermented foods in our family and believing in its good properties. I have a question or two. )) Do you think it kills all the good enzymes and probiotics when you cook it, bringing it to a boil? How long can you ferment it? You were saying it is not necessary, but if you want to ferment longer, can it sit on a counter for few days? Or it turns into клейстер – wall paper glue? Thank you and great to run into your food blog! Great job!

  4. Olga says:

    Hi! Thank you for comment!
    First: just do not cook it in high temperature and for 5 minutes maximum.
    Second: one best way to control it – smell it, good fermented oat smells like something sour – sourdough, kvass or yogurt. Too long fermentation will add very sour taste for kissel. In my experience 3 days maximum is enough.

  5. Lucy says:

    thank you for your kissel recipe. I have been fermenting the oats from quite a while, but recently have managed to get hold of raw oat groats and while fermenting them I noticed they develop slightly bitter flavour and sulphur like smell, the taste is sour, and no mold on the surface, I boiled it and the sulphur smell is gone and the kissel tastes quite sour but is pleasant. did you have any experience with that? the oats are definitely raw as I sprout them as well. thanks.

  6. Olga says:

    Hello! It could be you prolonged fermentation process a bit too much.
    To me, when I smell light sour smell of fermentation – I usually stop it

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