Sauerrüben

Monday’s freakishly terrific weather had me pining for sweaty afternoons in the garden, nurturing seedlings and combating Bermuda grass. For the meantime I’ll have to make do with a couple of fermentation projects, mostly beverages (blog posts forthcoming). I haven’t yet progressed past the point where I don’t view my garden as a months-long trial, and these mini science experiments in the kitchen seem to satisfy the same yearning.

About this time last year a friend introduced me to Wild Fermentation. I was familiar with the title, but when he described the book as a life-changing read, I decided to finally check out the library’s copy, which had tattered edges and splattered pages. (I love getting a well-loved library book; it’s an instant bond with other nameless, but like-minded OKC residents.)

After scanning through the first third of the book — the part that explains the history and basic science of fermented foods (many of which are my favorite things: beer, sourdough bread, cheese, yogurt) and the author’s interest in them — I knew I needed my very own copy.

The first recipe I tried was for sauerrüben (like sauerkraut, but with turnips instead of cabbage), since turnips were in season and are pretty cheap. I picked up a couple of pounds from W Bar M at the OSU-OKC farmers’ market.
fermenting shredded turnips, aka Sauerruben
Feb. 20, 2011
SauerrubenSauerruben
Grated turnips and sea salt packed into a crock, covered and weighted.
sauerruben
Evidence of fermentation after three days.
Sauerruben
I tasted the sauerrüben every day. I decided the flavor was right on day six, but the fermentation slowly continues in the refrigerator. My palate hasn’t quite adapted to enjoy sauerrüben on its own, but it’s a delicious complement to meats, especially barbecued brisket.

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