Hakurei turnips are a sweet treat in the spring. Perfect white orbs, delicate in flavor, lend themselves to a raw salad of grated roots simply dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, or an Asian-inspired rice vinegar and sesame oil combination. They’ll appear again in the fall, since they are a quick-growing cool weather crop similar to radishes. (I need to grow them….) While most often eaten raw, they are quickly and deliciously pickled, and also good steamed or roasted and combined with their leaves, basically yielding two vegetables in one.
A couple of weeks ago, I served them as a salad, grated with a little lemon zest, a splash of lemon juice and mild olive oil. Receiving two bunches from our CSA this past week, I decided to pickle a few, following Paul Virant’s suggestion in The Preservation Kitchen. I usually pickle turnip with baby beets in vinegar and herbs and cure them in the refrigerator. But Virant suggested that they could be water-bath-canned. Whoo hoo. Great for the pantry and a space-saver for the fridge. Count me in.
He made a brine of champagne vinegar, lemon juice and zest, sugar and toasted coriander seeds, brought the mixture to a boil and poured it over sliced turnips in hot canning jars. Sealed the canning lids, the jars went through the water bath canning process and sealed perfectly. Even though I was planning on using a jarful right away, I canned them all, to see what happened to the texture when subjected to the extra heat of the canning process. They became softer but not mushy as I feared. I will do a comparison with refrigerator pickling just to be sure which method I prefer.
The pickles were a tad sweet, but reasonably so given the delicacy of the roots. I will cut down on the sugar in the future. I served them as a condiment alongside panko-crusted sautéed codfish, and also tossed them into a grated raw turnip salad, dressed with the pickling liquid and a dash of olive oil. Delicious, successful, more to come.
Lemon-pickled Hakurei Turnips adapted from Paul Virant. The Preservation Kitchen
The principal adaptation here is the volume, since I wanted to make a small testing batch before committing to a pantry-full. I re-wrote the recipe.
1 bunch of Hakurei turnips (approx 1 lb or12 oz trimmed of leaves)
¾ tsp Kosher salt
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
¾ c water
1/3 c champagne vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan and crushed
If you plan on water-bath-canning the turnips, prepare the jars and assemble the lids.
Remove the greens from the turnips and reserve them for another use. Scrub the roots and slice the turnips into ¼-inch pieces.
Place all of the other ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pack the turnip slices into hot jars. Pour in the liquid, leaving a ½-inch headspace and checking for air pockets. Wipe the rims, and seal with the lids and screw-on bands.
Process in a water bath canner for m10 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove to a counter to cool undisturbed.
Makes 2-3 four-ounce jars