Turnip Kraut

Yes, you read that right, turnip kraut. That is my most recent historic food experiment.

Turnip Kraut - my first try at fermenting turnips.

Turnip Kraut – my first try at fermenting turnips.

I’ve made sauerkraut for years, the old way, nicely shredded cabbage layered with salt and allowed to naturally ferment in a crock. I had read and heard that it could be done with turnips and I always wanted to try that. And then like magic the turnip fairy came and brought me about 25 pounds of turnips. So when I found the turnips on the porch I knew what I had to do.

By the way Nic Welty runs a nice farm around here called 9 Bean Rows.  And some have said they have seen him drop off turnips on porches, although I’ve never seen that myself. I don’t have to see it, I believe in the turnip fairy!

Now-a-days ‘krauting’ is called lacto-fermentation or cultured vegetables. It is all essentially the same thing. It is a way of preserving vegetables. Pickles use vinegar. Jam uses jelly. Kraut uses fermentation.

So I followed the recipe at the top of this page, circa 1930. And then just today a great historic foodie friend, Pat Reber, sent me this recipe from Philadelphia in 1909…

Turnip Kraut.-—Peel and grate enough turnips in a crock to make a layer about 2 inches deep in the bottom of a 1-gallon jar. Sprinkle a teaspoonful of salt over it. Grate enough to make another 2-inch layer. then a teaspoonful of salt as before, and so on until jar is full. Cover with a plate that will fit down inside the jar. Put a weight on and tie a thick white cloth over top. A smooth clean rock is good for a weight. Some people use smoothing iron for such things, but that is not good for the kraut, nor the iron, either. It will take kraut 10 days or two weeks before ready for use. Should be kept in kitchen where it is warm. The Practical Farmer, Nov. 10, 1909

The two recipes are very similar. I opened up my crock of turnip kraut today…… well not quite. I tried to open it up but the wooden disc I put inside to keep the kraut down under the brine was swollen stuck! I paused for a moment and wondered what will I do? Then it dawns on me; I should ask the guys at Woodbine to help me. Woodbine is this amazing place in Suttons Bay where lumber is turned into furniture/art/apple butter paddles, machines are refurbished or reinvented, old boats are made new, flesh forks are straightened, unique metal parts are fabricated for making cider and many more wondrous and amazing miracles that I can barely understand. The machinery there astounds and there is this really nice cat named Oliver. I knew those guys could get that disc out of my crock. Those guys are great.

Jim, Gary and Fred, in intervals tried a few different approaches, which was all very entertaining. In the end a small saw was produced and the disc was removed without damaging the crock or the turnip kraut. Gary and I tasted some right away and were both quite pleased. It is nice to know that a girl like me can get a little help at place like Woodbine. It is all is so serendipitous. Jim, you know, is responsible for the beautiful built-ins in my house.

The dining room hutch that Jim built. Made of walnut.

The dining room hutch that Jim built. Made of walnut.

Anyway – back to opening the turnip kraut… once the kraut was opened and it was tasted I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised. I’m not a huge fan of the turnip, cooked with other root vegetables it is pretty good. But man oh man, this turnip kraut is just the thing. Crunchy, tangy, a bit peppery hot, strong flavored, not too sour – oh my gosh I’m sold. I like it better than sauerkraut.  It was not that hard to make and only took about 2 weeks to ferment.

Turnip Kraut in the crock

Turnip Kraut in the crock

I plan to serve it as a relish with meals, I think it will go well with pork and poultry and sandwiches with meat. It would also be very nice with some dry cured sausages, cheeses, quince paste and a few walnuts and I think some Riesling.

Turnip Kraut – I’m impressed.


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5 Responses to “Turnip Kraut” Comments are currently closed.

  1. Kate says:

    Susan, I’ve also seen plenty of receipts for fermented vegetables in European sources. I’ve tried lacto-fermenting black radishes, which are also wonderful! Recently tried beets as well; they were a bit hard but tasty. Slicing them thin enough is the issue. now I must try turnips!

    • Susan Odom says:

      oh that all sounds wonderful! Share a few of those title if you can. and I wonder when folks started calling it lacto-fermentation? I have this 1930’s book that calls it krauting or pickling! of course I love the krauting word! Maybe the beets could be grated like I did the turnips? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tanmay Roy says:

    Thanks for the post. Now I am going to try turnips!

  3. […] Turnip Kraut – How to Make this Old Style Fermented Food (Hillside Homestead).  I love the photo of the old cookbook this recipe came from – almost as much as I love turnip kraut.  If you’re looking for more precise measurements, check out our recipe for turnip kraut at the bottom of this newsletter. […]