All the purple top turnips have been pulled out of the ground. What do we do when we have access vegetables? We ferment them. So this was a good time to make purple top turnip kimchi.
What fun we had collecting our harvest. Horses poked their curious noses over the fence for a nibble at the green turnip tops. We always give the greens to them fresh and that means within minutes of pulling those turnips out of the ground.
Normally I would just pick what I need for the day’s meals and leave the rest in the ground but summer was upon us and these turnips are a winter crop. So I had exhausted my flexible-harvest time frame and had to move into full clearing.
This is a shame as these green tops contain four times the percentage of daily value of calcium as its less bitter counterparts such as cabbage, for instance. One serving also provides 588% vitamin K which is needed for our bodies to use calcium effectively for the bones. Without Vitamin K, calcium can be directed to the wrong places such as arteries and organs causing problems that include hardening of arteries. So one serving of these greens provides enough Vitamin K for a whole week!
If we didn’t give these green turnip tops to the horses, most of them would end up in the compost bin as they have a bitter taste and not popular on the dinner table [don’t know why horses like them. Probably for the same reason I like bitter melon].
To create a myriad of flavours I have included beetroot and their leaves too in my ferment. Beet leaves and turnip leaves are high in oxalic acid which can bind important minerals such as calcium and make them inaccessible to our bodies. Fermentation breaks down this oxalic acid and releases these minerals so our bodies can easily metabolise them.
Purple Top Turnip Kimchi
It is not necessary to soak the vegetables in a brine as fermentation will occur without it, but you will have a mushy kimchi instead of kimchi with crunchy vegetables.
Salt holds back the activity of the yeast so that your vegetables stay crunchy. Some probiotics enthusiasts believe too much salt kills probiotics and you end up with just a “brine-cured” food and not a healthy lacto-fermented food.
Sandor Katz leading fermentation revivalist does not agree. He believes, the beneficial bacteria we’re after, Lactobacillus, is salt-tolerant and abundantly present even in salty krauts. He agrees salt-free ferments may be more biodiverse but the mushy texture compromises taste. So if adding salt produces a far superior flavour and texture with just as much beneficial bacteria, he argues in favour of using salt. His basic formula for salt is 3 tablespoons for 5 pounds of vegetables. The general rule in salting your ferments according to Sandor Katz: “More salt to slow microorganism action in summer heat; less salt in winter when microbial action slows”. I use special led-free crock pots imported into from Poland to ferment my purple top turnip kimchi.
Purple Top Turnip Kimchi Recipe
5 kg of both purple top turnip and beetroot
1.6 kg of the leaves of purple top turnip and beetroot
10 cloves whole
1 cup honey
4 spring onions
I fermented my vegetables in my 10 litre crock pot. I filled my crock pot with 5 litres of water and made a brine brine solution consisting of three tablespoons salt, based on Sandor Katz’s guidance on preparing brine. There are more complicated guidelines based on the type of vegetables you use, but this simple form works for me. Remember some vegetables such as cabbages will produce a lot of water. Keep this in mind when you add water. The idea is to keep the vegetables completely submerged to ensure good anaerobic fermentation takes place in this purple top turnip kimchi.
My crock pot comes with a water moat in which the lid sits. I poured water into this moat at the rim of the crock pot and placed the lid on top of the water.This creates an airlock and thus provides the perfect anaerobic environment. At the same time it allows the carbon dioxide released by the vegetables during the fermentation process to bubble out, thus preventing pressure build up. This same concept applies for brewing wine.
I did not use the stone weights that came with the crock pots to press and keep the vegetables under water because I did not have enough vegetables to fill the whole pot 10 litre pot. You can still use the weights if you do not add as much water as I did.
Stirring creates more oxygen for the wild yeasts and thus you want to keep stirring to a minimum. Your target is a sweet ferment and yeasts will tend to make it too sour. For example when you resort to an aerobic fermentation for grape juice which is where you allow oxygen into the juice it will fuel the yeasts more than it will the bacteria and you end up with vinegar instead of wine.
These crock pots are expensive and if you can’t afford one or don’t have access to one, simple use a food grade plastic container. However, avoid metal containers like cast-iron, copper, aluminum, and tin, all of which can react with the acids in fermented food and give it a strange flavor. These metals can also leach into the food.
I left my vegetables alone to ferment in a cool and dark place in my pantry for one month. Two weeks will be appropriate for most ferments but I wanted a stronger taste. It was exciting to hear the concoction bubbling the first few days. After sometime the bubbling will stop and the lacto fermentation will begin under anaerobic conditions.
After one month, my purple top turnip kimchi was ready. I took the vegetables out of the water and placed them in glass jars. Sieve them to remove most of the water. They will still release some water in the bottle resulting in them sitting in a watery liquid in the jars and that is all right as you want them to remain submerged under water. Place these jars in the fridge and eat as an accompaniment to rice dishes or place them in sandwiches.
Related articles: Making Fermented Food Part Of Your Regular Diet
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