If you live where I live, or in most parts of the United States, I feel it’s safe to say, that the bounty of the harvest has come to an end. I hit up the last few, chilly, outdoor farmers’ markets in my area, and felt extremely bad for the vendors standing outside in the cold for four hours without even a trashcan fire to warm their fingers. I bid them a pleasant adieu, bought plenty for my Thanksgiving table and did a happy dance, because although I’ll miss the bustle of the outdoor markets, I can still do all of my produce purchasing at the wonderful Fair Food Farmstand (instead of just some of it), aka the local, sustainable farmers’ market that is open year round and conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia. Don’t know what I would do without them!
The fully stocked Fair Food shelves of amazing local goods notwithstanding, the bounty of incredibly diverse fall produce is over, so this pickling segment will post a bit less frequently and I’ll focus a bit more on wintry fermented foods for a while. One last guy, though, in the tradition of the Thursday “We Can Phickle Thats.”
I love fresh vegetables. Who doesn’t? But the moral of the story today is that you don’t have to use a garden-fresh, perfect specimen to end up with a great ferment. I bought some kohlrabi
last week two weeks ago okay a month ago at the farmers’ market and I never got around around to doing anything to it. It wasn’t exactly looking gorgeous when I finally chopped it into French fries and stuck it in a jar. The greens I had used long ago in some forgotten smoothie, but the big ol’ alien bulbs were still sitting there. One on the fridge, one on the counter, just to give you a glimpse into the high level of my organization. Instead of despairing at their less-than-perfect state, I pressed them a bit and realized they’d be just right for fermentation.
You see while fresh vegetables are wonderful and delightful to eat raw, you don’t need the most perfect specimen for fermentation. Experienced fermenters will know that fermentation greatly enhances the flavor (and usually the texture) of all kinds of vegetables, and older veggies are no exception. Often if I find something a little shrunken and wilty in the bottom of the vegetable drawer, I put it in the fermenting pile. The only thing to remember is to cut out any soft parts. That’s where the enzymes that do the breaking down have already made some progress. You don’t want them making progress in your ferment! I will admit to a little trepidation: I’ve eaten my fair share of stringy, woody kohlrabi, and these were large roots, which tend to be woodier. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at my first bite. They had the crisp, juicy texture of jicama and the fantastic flavor of, well, cabbage, which makes sense because kohlrabi and cabbage are related. And one more thing: the color! The beautiful purple color of the skin becomes the softest pink once brined. The perfect pickles for the girly girl (or hey, manly man) in your life.
END OF SEASON MUSTARDY KOHLRABI PICKLES
Yeilds 1 quart kohlrabi pickles
First time making fermented pickles? Check out this Pickles FAQ page before you get started.
- 1 pound kohrabi root, weigh after greens are removed
- 1 scant tablespoon salt, mixed into 1 3/4 cups of room temperature water, preferably filtered
- 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
- Thoroughly wash your kohlrabi under room temperature water and remove extra stemmy things (technical term) from the sides and top.
- Chop kohlrabi into half-inch pieces and then cut each slice at half-inch intervals, so the pieces resemble french fries.
- Place mustard seeds into the bottom of a one quart jar and pile your kohlrabi slices in on top of them. I like to put mine in standing up. Leave about an inch at the top of your jar.
- Pour brine over until it is over the level of the kohlrabi pieces. The pieces may rise up, so push them down if need be so that you aren’t overfilling your jar.
- Place a weight of some kind over them. I used the cheapo jar method, but Sandy Der’s weights would have been a great choice here as well.
- Allow to ferment at room temperature for about 2 weeks, then taste to make sure they have the right acidity for your tastes. If so, put the lid on and stick them in the fridge. If not, let them ferment for another day or so before tasting them again.