In keeping with calling the fermented turnip (more usually called sauerruben) turnip burnip I am calling the fermented beet and cabbage (more usually called sauerkraut) burnip, too. Several weeks ago I started a batch with grated green cabbage and assorted beets from the CSA. It was done last week, and is delicious. The color is gorgeous, think crystal clear ruby-pomegranate-pink. The flavor is great, sauerkraut with a slightly sweet, earthy beet tone. And the texture is wonderful – with enough body to have a little crunch but not hard. And the nutritive value is very high – all the fiber and vitamins of fresh vegetables with the added benefit of probiotics. Instead of heat canning it I am keeping it in the fridge, where it will last for many, many months. It will keep more of its nutrients and the probiotics that way along with its texture. If you have never made homemade fermented (salt brined) vegetables before I recommend you try it. Here is an easy starter recipe that makes a this beautiful and yummy end result.
Beet and Cabbage Burnip aka Sauerkraut
- 1 lb fresh beets, peeled
- 4 lbs fresh green cabbage, trimmed
- 3 Tbs pickling salt (which is just fine, pure salt – a word on salt below*)
- water and more salt as needed for brine, at least 8 cups and 3 Tbs respectively
Either with a sharp knife or the slicing blade of the food processor slice the cabbage. Put in a large bowl. Slice the beets then slice again (I ran mine through the food processor slicer 3 times so the pieces were not giant slabs.) Put the beets with the cabbage. Toss with the salt, mixing thoroughly. Meanwhile, get your crock ready. A crock should be a straight sided container with a flat bottom and should be either stoneware, plastic, or glass. Never use metal. Some people use (brand new) paint or hardware buckets when they are making a large quantity of pickles vegetables. My crock is glass. In any case, wash well and have crock ready to use. Pack the beet and cabbage mix into the crock, pressing down as you put it in. Make a batch of brine in a different container using 3 Tbs pickling salt to 2 quarts (8 cups) water, stir until salt is dissolved. Add brine to the cabbage/beet blend as needed to make sure it is all covered with liquid but not in standing liquid. Cover the whole surface area with a clean piece of damp cheesecloth (I have heard of people using a clean, old pillow case instead of the cheesecloth). Then fill a gallon sized zip-close plastic bag about 3/4 of the way with the brine, get out all the air, seal closed and then seal that into a second bag. (The second bag helps prevent leaking into your vegetables, the reason to use brine instead of plain water is in case of leaks your vegetables will still have the right salt to veggie ratio and properly ferment. You can always dispose of or drink or cook with excess liquid later.) Carefully place the plastic bag in the crock on top of the cheesecloth so none of the cloth, or the vegetables beneath it, are exposed to the air. If you do this right the bag will “seal” the kraut and you will not have to worry about skimming it. If you cannot air seal it then it might grow mold, scum, or bloom on the top. Skim this off every day or two and throw it away, what is beneath will be fine. If you are able to seal it with the bag (mine worked perfectly) you should not need to do anything to the kraut until you take it out of the crock to eat and store. Place in a cool, dark place, preferably somewhere between 65-75 degrees. Warmer and it will ferment faster and go off quicker. Colder and it will take a very long time to ferment. At ~65 degrees it takes around 4 weeks to be ready to eat, at 75 degrees about 2 weeks. If you are using a glass crock, as I do, then wrap it in a tea towel or some other cloth so it isn’t exposed to light. After a couple of weeks taste it. If it is fermented as you like then either refrigerate in the crock or remove to clean glass storage jars and keep refrigerated. Eat, enjoy, be healthy.
*The word about salt. When you are making pickles, fermenting vegetables, canning anything you want to use pure salt without additives or extra ingredients. Kosher salt, table salt, and sea salt are all not recommended as they contain ingredients other than salt. Those other ingredients will not make your food bad for you but may discolor it or cloud the brine. Brown sauerkraut in milky looking brine is not appealing. Use pickling or pure salt, it is worth looking for it to get the most amazing looking end product.