Friday, January 16, 2009

Turnip Diaries, Part IV: We're in This Pickle Together

I'm a pickle fiend myself, a lover of salty and sour, so Anthony Boutard's entry in his continuing series has me contemplating making some pickles of my own. (A chip off the old block, my son has even taken to sprinkling a bit of fish sauce on his kosher dills.)

The world is divided into lovers of pickles and those who simply can't understand why anyone would curl their lip around a soured vegetable. For pickle lovers, here are a couple variants of the art as applied to the turnip.

The middle eastern mezza includes pink pickled turnips. They are simple to make. Cut up some turnips and a beet, and pack into a jar. Sprinkle in some salt, a teaspoon or so. Heat up a cup of water and add a cup of vinegar. We use white wine vinegar. The recommended dilution varies, but most recipes suggest a equal proportions. Pour the hot diluted vinegar into the jar. You want the turnips covered by the liquid. Use a non-metallic lid or plastic wrap to cover the jar. We leave them on the counter for a few days to hasten the cure, and then refrigerate. They will last several weeks. The variations you adopt will establish the character of the pickles. You can use beet juice instead of the water. Some people add garlic or hot pepper. A bit of celery green or root is welcome by some. And you can also pickle rutabagas.

Turnips are lacto-fermented just like cabbage. Sauerruben is made in the same way as sauerkraut. Slice, julienne or grate the turnips, salt and then pack into a crock with a weighted top. The proportion is 3 tablespoons of salt per five pounds of turnip. Use only fresh, young turnips. If you do a lot of fermentation, the Harsch fermentation crocks available at Mirador Community Store (2106 SE Division) make life a whole lot easier. They are fitted with weights to keep the vegetables submerged and a bell cover that is sealed with water. Elegant design. The ten-liter size is probably the most practical.

Read the other posts in the Turnip Diaries series: Part I: The Wapato Valley, Part II: Chestnuts, Persimmons and Turnips, Part III: Misery Loves Company, Part V: The Spicy Turnip, Part VI: The Turnip Also Rises, Part VII: WWPD (What Would Pliny Do)

Top photo from Her Able Hands.


Cathy said...

Excellent post, Kathleen. The turnips and beets look delicious. And that's a terrific pickling crock.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks, Cathy. I'll let Anthony know! (Don't you love his writing?)

And all credit for the photo has to go to Kelly Ferry of Her Able Hands, a very fine photographer and writer.