Photo by Tant Hill Farm
Turnips: I like them but sometimes I still find them a challenge to prepare. I like a few slices raw, but not more than that. Cooked they look so pretty and smell so good but my eyes tell my brain to expect potatoes and I can end up disappointed. When I saw a recipe for Korean Lacto-fermented Salad Turnips, I wondered if fermenting is what I need to be doing with turnips.
Turnips, in one form or another, have been grown for human and animal feed for a long time. In pre-fifteenth century India, turnips, a brassica, were grown for their oilseeds, much like modern rapeseeds/canola. Today not all turnips are grown for their roots, either. Some are grown for just their leaves, though the ones grown for their roots have edible leaves, too. The leaves most resemble their cousin mustard, though they have a taste all their own. If your turnip greens are the same color as this paint color, though, throw them out! I’m not sure how that paint color was named.
The root most people in the US associate with turnip is the purple topped variety. They come in at least several other colors, though: plain white, green, golden, and a red variety that I would swear was a beet. I’d have to taste it to be sure!
Back in November I saw a post on Tant Hill Farm’s blog for fermented turnips. They looked so pretty and seemed like they would be yummy. The recipe comes from Laura Robinson, a Market board member who has her own blog as well - Root to Fruit: Simple, Seasonal Preservation.
I first heard of fermented vegetables in The Little House Cookbook. Ma Ingalls was already making vinegar pickles in the late 1800’s, but the cookbook describes fermenting pickles in a large barrel in a cellar. What seemed exotic when I first read it is now a regular part of my diet.
This is the first successful ferment I’ve made. I started some sauerkraut once long ago and unexpectedly had to abandon it, leaving me with quite the mess to come back to later. I’m pretty used to culinary fails and find it an important part of learning, but this was a fail that was hard to shake for a while. While I’ve been getting over it, I have appreciated the variety of ferments available for purchase, from national brands such as Bubbies, to friends making it, to Harvest Roots Ferments.
I was itching to make my own, though. I wanted the satisfaction of successfully making a ferment and the novelty that comes from making something different from what I can buy. Also, using up the bounty of each season appeals to me. Root to Fruit also has various other ways of preserving the harvest: preserving in oil, sauces, and quick pickles, among others. I look forward to trying different ways of preserving that I have not experimented with, either at all or in a long time.
Laura used purple-topped turnips in her ferment, but I love the look of all-white turnips. Note that the end product of an all-white ferment was not the prettiest to photograph, however. I added some additional green onion strips for color. It sure tastes yummy, no matter how it looks (much better in person, actually). The flavors of various turnips do differ with color and size, so use what you prefer to look at and taste. Larger turnips are going to be stronger and hotter, while smaller are more mild.
Laura provides excellent instructions for this recipe and has additional advice for fermenting as well. Her recipe was easy to follow and the end result tasty.
From Laura Robinson via Tant Hill Farm
Makes about 2 cups
Photo by Zachary Cross
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