Fermented turnips are a traditional food in both Asia and Europe. In Korea, turnips are used in a form of kimchi. This recipe is a traditional German ferment with simple, clean flavors. The turnips can be shredded like a sauerkraut (known as sauerruben), or the vegetable can be cut into discs or wedges for a crisper pickle. Crunchy and lightly tangy, they are excellent as part of a mixed vegetable salad, or just enjoyed as a crunchy, tangy snack.
Lactofermented vegetables have significant health benefits. The fermentation process helps break down cell structures, making nutrients more bioavailable. They are also loaded with probiotics that are good for our digestive systems and overall health.
This recipe couldn't be easier - no canning, no sterilizing jars, no long list of ingredients. You can have all the work done in under 10 minutes. The only difficult part is waiting a week while the turnips ferment and the flavor develops.
- 7 to 8 medium turnips, peeled
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
- Optional: 1 fresh jalapeño
- Prepare the turnips. You can julienne or grate them to make a traditional kraut-style sauerruben, or cut them into thin rounds or wedges for a crunchier pickle. In either case, try to make the pieces as uniform as possible.
- If using the jalapeño, remove the stem end, and slice into thin rounds, discarding the seeds as you go. Be sure to use rubber gloves when working with hot peppers, and be careful not to touch your eyes or other mucous membranes.
- Loosely pack the turnips and peppers into clean glass jars. Don't pack too tightly; you want to make sure the brine can make full contact with the turnips. It is not necessary to sterilize the jars for Lacto-fermented foods. Just be sure they are really clean.
- Make a brine by combining the salt and water. It is important to use non-chlorinated water because chlorine can interfere with the fermentation process. Filtered tap water is fine. You can run a regular tap through a Brita filter. Alternatively, you can boil the water and allow to cool completely, or you can leave the water out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. If your tap water is very hard, consider buying filtered water.
- Pour the salt brine over the vegetables. Gently press down on the vegetables to release any air bubbles and to submerge them in the brine.
- Cover the jars loosely with a lid, or with cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel. Alternatively, consider using a small-batch fermentation kit. Place the jars on a plate to catch any overflow that may happen once active fermentation gets going.
- Leave the jars at room temperature for 3 days. During this time, remove the covers at least once a day and check to see that the vegetables are still submerged in the brine (add additional salt brine if necessary). You should start to see some bubbles on top, which is a sign that fermentation is underway. If you see any white film or mold spots on the brine, skim it off.
- By the end of the 3 days, the turnips should have a clean, lightly sour smell and taste. Put the jars in the refrigerator (no need to put plates under them at this stage). Wait at least 5 more days for the flavor of your fermented turnips to develop.
- This recipe also works well with rutabagas.
- Lactofermented turnips will keep in the refrigerator for at least 6 months but are best eaten within 3 months. After 3 months they tend to lose some of their crispness.
Tip: using young Spring turnips will result in a milder pickle. Leave out the chile pepper and simply enjoy the refreshing taste of fermented Spring turnips.