Have you ever heard anyone use the adjective, 'awesome' in conjunction with the noun, 'turnip'? No? Me neither.
I propose to change that circumstance today, with a spicy, sweet and sour probiotic pickle made almost entirely from turnips - and a little help from beets, cumin, chilli and salt...
I am a whimsical eater. I get a flavour on my palate and that's just what I want to eat for a few days, or even weeks. When I have satisfied the urge, I'm on to the next thing. I will just say that my urges never lead me to the greasy doors of a fast food restaurant and they rarely lead to a pizza parlour, but they pull me along by some unseen Bisto trail none-the-less. It might be broccoli with butter and tamari, or scrambled eggs and kale. I might find that I long for stir fries, soups or stews and have to stop myself for the sake of Nick and Finn, from dishing up variations on the same theme.
Pickles are a constant, although these too vary with the seasons and I find that I m happy to add a spoonful of the current flavour to almost everything I eat. It becomes something of a joke, with the pickle jar arriving at the table even before any cutlery has been laid!
Just now, my tastebuds are calling for this turnip pickle. It delights me in every way.
'Just look at that colour!', I squeal each meal time - holding up a slice of magenta for agreement, before popping it in my mouth and wondering for the tenth time that week, how turnips could be so delicious?
Adding beets brings an earthy sweetness, but they are a little tougher than the turnips, so this ratio makes the most of their flavour whilst the turnips give the pickle a light, juicy crunch. Cumin and mild chilli add to the warmth and earthiness, and lacto fermenting brings a delightful sourness to the sweet roots.
It's just perfect alongside any spicy food, but also brings savoury depth to salads, stews, soups and breakfasts. If you are adding it to hot food, then stir it in once you dish up to preserve as much of the probiotic as you can.
This is my contribution for this month's Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free - Pickles! I would love some more contributions if anyone has a pickle, preserve or chutney recipe lurking? Send them to me at naomidevlin @ f2s dot com by Jan 27th.
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Probiotic Turnip, Beet and Cumin Pickle
1 kilo of Smallish, Firm, Turnips
2-3 Medium Beetroot
1 tablespoon Coarse Sea Salt
3 tsp Cumin Seeds
1-2 tsp Mild Chilli Flakes (Turkish Pul Biber or Urfa Biber)
Good Few Grinds of Black Pepper
Plus either of these:
2 Probiotic Capsules (break them open) and a 200ml of Mineral Water
200ml of Whey (drained from dripping yogurt)
1 litre sized Kilner (Mason) Jar
Peel both turnips and beets - use rubber gloves for the beets to stop your hands getting stained.
Using a mandolin (or slicing attachment on your food processor or box grater), slice turnips and beets as thinly as possible and put into a non reactive bowl (glass, stainless steel or ceramic).
Add everything else and pound everything together with a meat mallet or wooden spoon, until the juices flow a little. You're not trying to break up the vegetables, juice bruise everything a bit so that the flavours mingle and juices start to come out of the veg.
Pack everything into the Kilner jar and press down with your gloved fingers or a spoon, until the liquid reaches the top of the mixture.
I usually place a non reactive weight on top to keep everything submerged, but you can just leave the pickle like that to do it's thing. Enjoy watching the turnip turn pink!
Set the jar aside at room temperature for 2-4 days. It depends how warm your house is, so check after a couple of days with clean fingers and taste a piece of the pickle. If it's sour enough, pop the whole jar in the fridge, or decant into smaller jars. It's better after a week in the fridge.