I haven’t mentioned it yet this year, but we belong to a new CSA, thanks to my wife. It has been a couple of years since we last belonged to one and this winter my wife decided it was time we joined another one, and this time she didn’t want to pay for it so she decided that she would give up 4 hours a week to help at the farm in return for a worker’s share. So thanks to her we have plenty of produce filling up our fridge this summer. THANKS HONEY!!!!!
For a few weeks we were getting salad turnips in every delivery. If you haven’t had salad turnips before, and you probably haven’t, you need to search them out. They are fantastic, like a combination between turnips and radishes. They have a peppery bite, but not as peppery or spicy as radishes, but they also have that deep, mellow earthy flavor of a turnip. And the best part is they are great raw. In fact I don’t even bother to peel them. Just wash well, scrubbing away and dirt, then slice and eat, or pop the whole thing in your mouth. Of course they also make a great addition to a salad.
One day I was in the mood to get a couple batches of fermented pickles going and I wondered what the turnips would be like pickled. Doing a quick internet, and cookbook search, I didn’t come across very much about pickling turnips. Either that meant that they weren’t a good vegetable to pickle or people out there just weren’t writing about it. I choose to believe the latter as I really wanted to experiment with these and see what would happen. I’m a huge fan of Dilly Beans so I figured if I fermented them that way no matter what they would still turn out okay.
We had also received a few bunches of carrots and I had a number of jalapenos on hand so I figured, since I was going to be making up some brine I might as well make up a batch of spicy carrot sticks also. Again, since the carrots were fresh, and young the skin wasn’t terribly thick or bitter so I figured, with a good washing I would just leave the skins on again.
1-1 1/2 pounds Salad Turnips
3/4 pound Carrots
1/4 pound Jalapenos
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 heads Fresh Dill and numerous dill fronds
3 Tbs. + 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
8 cups Water
So, to ferment your vegetables you first need to make a brine. Combine 8 cups of water with 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of either kosher, sea, or canning salt. If using sea salt and it is in large flakes crush it up a bit first. Also make sure that your salt does not contain any other ingredients; no iodine or anti-caking agents as these will ruin your ferment. Bring the water and salt to a boil to dissolve the salt then let cook to room temperature. Meanwhile wash and sterilize 2-1 quart canning jars, along with their lids. Wash your salad turnips and quarter them. Stuff into one of the jars along with half of the garlic and the dill. How much dill you use is all dependent on how “dilly” you like your veggies. I found 2 heads and about 4-6 large fronds were about perfect.
Cut the carrots into sticks, what every size you like although I would keep them no larger than 1/4″ square. Slice the jalapenos in half, remove the seeds and ribs and cut into sticks. Arrange in the second jar and add the garlic.
Pour in the room temperature brine, making sure that all the vegetables are covered by at least 1/4-1/2″ of brine. Place the lids on and just give 1 turn to the ring of the lid. You don’t want to tighten it down completely as during the fermentation process CO2 will be made and it needs to escape. Place on a tray, to catch any liquid that might escape, and place somewhere warm, but not hot, out of direct sunlight to ferment. Fermentation will take any were from 5-14 days, depending on the temperature and how sour you like your vegetables. During this time your brine will turn cloudy. This is normal in most fermentations especially if you have hard water. Usually it is nothing to worry about. After about 3 days, quickly open the jars and ensure that all the veggies are still submerged. If you see a bit of white mold on top, carefully skim it off. Close up the jars again. After 5 days you can start tasting your veggies. The longer you ferment them the less salty and more sour they will become. The vegetables will also start to soften a bit. If you want your veggies nice and crisp then 5-6 days is probably about how long you want to go. If you don’t mind losing a bit of crispness and want a more sour pickle then let them go a few days longer. Once they are where you want them at place them in the fridge but leaves the lid loose for another 24 hours as it will take time for the fermentation to slow. I usually then allow my pickles to sit another week in the fridge as the flavors will mature and mellow a bit as they sit.
I let both of these go for 1 week. I would have like to have had them a little more sour but we were heading off on vacation and I thought another week would be long and was worried that they would spoil in that time frame without me there to check them every couple of days.
And how did they turn out? Really good!!! The turnips were great, although they could have been a bit more sour. The dill flavor was just about right on. The carrots taste great but the jalapenos lost a good bit of their heat which disappointed me a bit as I was looking for something spicier, but as I said I really like the flavor.