Have you noticed all the recipes for rhubarb, peas and other spring things popping up? Yeah, me too. I have to admit that it kind of gets on my nerves. I totally get the pressure to make seasonally relevant recipes, but the truth is, seasonally relevant recipes in early April, in hardiness zone 6b and below are generally overwintered root vegetables!
In a few more weeks, we’ll be seeing the bright, fresh, colorful goodies pop up in the markets. We’ll have greens and lettuces galore. We’ll have rhubarb. Now, though, we have beat beets. And wrinkled cabbages. And turnips. And I am SUPER cool with that, because it means I get to eat sauerruben for a few months more.
Sauerkraut: sauer = sour. kraut = cabbage. Sauerruben: sauer = (still) sour. Ruben = turnip. So yup, we’re making a spicy, tangy packed ferment of turnips today and you’re going to love it. That’s not an order, it’s a prediction.
Sauerruben is punchy and pungent and it has the tiniest bit of horseradish bite. I can’t get enough of it, and I do become a bit of a lady hulk when someone eats the last of the jar before the next one is fermented. I like it fermented on the short side, because that horseradish tang is still really strong, but it will keep fermenting like a champ for a month or more.
Yield: 1 Quart
How you make your turnip pieces is a matter of taste and time. Something approximating a julienne works best for me, but I sometimes spiralize, sometimes hand cut and sometimes use the mandoline. It’s up to you. I like slightly larger pieces, so I don’t grate my turnips, but that’s an option as well.
I also prefer to keep this one simple. The turnip flare comes through the best when additional seasonings are limited, this is one that I generally do with no spices added, but again, that’s your choice!
- 2 pounds (900 g) unpeeled, purple-top turnip, ends and rooty bits removed
- 1 tablespoon (18 g) kosher salt
- Rinse turnip/s. Cut them according to your preference (see headnote) and place them in a medium bowl. Pour salt over turnips and toss with clean hands to combine.
- Massage the mixture until the vegetables have released some liquid. The larger the pieces, the more mixing you’ll have to do to draw out the water.
- Once you see a small puddle at the bottom of the bowl, they’re ready to be packed into the jar.
- Press the turnips into a quart jar, smushing them down thoroughly with the flat of your fist until the jar is full to about 2 inches below the rim. If there’s not at least 1/4 inch (1 cm) of liquid covering the turnips when you press down on them, pour a bit of liquid from the bottom of the bowl into the jar.
- Apply a weight (ideas here) to keep the vegetables under the brine. Cover your jar and move to a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight. Let it ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks. Once it’s sour enough for you, remove the weight, secure the jar lid and stick it in the fridge to slow fermentation.
- Sauerruben makes a great addition to salads and sandwiches, but you may accidentally eat the whole jar before it makes it to that slice of bread.