I struggle with kraut of all kind. It goes moldy, it’s too salty, I forget to eat it for two years and it metamorphosizes into a glump, I accidently give all of it away and end up with none on the very day I am making choucroute.
So it is not surprising that I am currently krautless.
Which is why I ordered 15 pounds of the World’s Most Expensive Purple Top Turnips* from Spence Farm. Because I am determined to make enough kraut to last through the rest of my pig, Bessie. And I have a lot of pig left.
I discovered that my most often too salty cabbage kraut has a delightful home in the runzas of my friends A&TVH, so when I make a kraut for myself, I turn to turnips.
Turnip Kraut is pretty easy: top and tail, peel, shred in whatever shredder device you have, weigh, add 1/2 tablespoon of salt per pound and leave overnight. Next day, pack into crock and push down. The turnips should be covered by about 2 inches of briney water. If not, add salty water to the tune of 1.5 teaspoons of salt per cup of water. I also add some whey, about 1/4 cup, to kick off the lactic fermentation. Then cover mine with a double layer of muslin and weigh with a board and a large mason jar filled with water.
After about two weeks, it has krauted. Which for me is just the start because I process my kraut in jars.
And I flavor it.
With all kinds of flavors.
In individual jars.
I am pretty sure this is against all kraut rules, but I really hate eating the same thing over and over again.** But I am not a big processed food gal and I can’t make food from scratch every day and keep my sanity. So, I tend to make a base of something and then make variations I can pop on a pantry shelf for later.
So, my turnip kraut is going to get dressed up in all manner of guises when it goes into the canning jar. This year, I am making:
Spicy Kimchee-Inspired But Spanish Really Turnip Kraut
I make this with pimentón — and yes, it makes me feel so clever. Even if it makes you think I am culinarily insane. Basically I make a fire-y paste with the pimentón, homemade garlic powder and the kraut liquid, dump it into the jar with the fermented kraut and process it. Totally not traditional, I know. You are supposed to add the heat as part of the fermenting! Kimchee is made with Napa cabbage! I know, I know. So, don’t get your underwear in a bunch and then don’t even think of then turning around and asking me for a recipe after you try it after bashing it.
This stuff, this is good for hangovers served along side some scrambled eggs. But you can’t have a hangover for at least a month or so because the flavors need to blend. So, be careful there, my friend.
Boatloads of Fresh Bay Turnip Kraut
I happen to have a bunch of Bay that has been hanging around for a while and three trees for the garden on the way so I don’t need to dry it. I love fresh Bay. I use too much of it in everything I can. This can be an awesome way to complement a mild hot dog, if you make your own hot dogs or buy them from a reliable source. If you don’t let me know where to send the flowers.
Caraway Turnip Kraut
You can mess with the cabbage-y part, sure, but don’t mess with the flavors of choucroute, Yo. I put a bunch in the bottom of the jar before filling up with the kraut. Seal and leave until choucroute time to marry the flavors.
Ode To Rob Levitt Fennel, Coriander and Chili Flake Turnip Kraut
As I continue to make the meaty things Rob tells me to make, it will be handy to have a complementing kraut on the shelf. Rob is obsessed with the fennel-coriander-chili flake combo. If this turns out, I’ll bring him some just to say thanks for being an awesome dude.
Ramp-y Turnip Kraut
Duh, it’s spring. Ramps. For this, I will actually be making a smallish batch of krauted ramps to add to the turnips at canning. To make a smallish batch of basically any kind of kraut, pile vegetables into a quart canning jar, add 2 tablespoons each of whey and salt and fill with filtered water to the top (for all you “tap water is fine” folk, know that the chlorine messes with the fermentation). Again, I cover with a cloth to keep everything submerged and then, using a used lid, screw on the cap and leave on the counter for a few days before moving to a cooler place to ferment.
Turnip Kraut is a spring thing, because the turnips are sweeter in Spring than in the Fall. So, make some now or just come over in the fall and eat mine.
*The world would be a better place if every American who could afford it would find a farmer who is honestly committed to farming sustainably and support them in their efforts to make a living. I have a Make Your Own CSA with Spence Farm and often, the food I get from this farmer is eye-poppingly expensive. To me, it isn’t about the cost of the food. It is about helping a family farm make a living and honoring myself with honest food grown with good intention. You could do this too, if you stopped thinking about groceries as household line item and started thinking about it as a vehicle to living an honorable life.
**I am pretty sure this is why, not matter how much I try, I don’t eat leftovers. Which is awesome for chickens because they seem to relish them as though they are gifts from the Gods and so my leftovers no longer languish in the fridge, they get converted to yummy, colorful eggs.