I have a lot of turnips. Now we all love baby turnips but what I have are anything but babies. They’re large and getting tough. I made the mistake of planting way too early and they are ready for harvest long before my root cellar is cool enough to accommodate them. In desperation, a few weeks ago I shredded a bunch and put them in a crock with some salt and waited to see what would happen. There was a time I despaired of the mess ever being fit for consumption. The whole kitchen was starting to smell a bit like a load of dirty gym socks but I was patient and yesterday, wonder of wonders, I was able to can 6 quarts of delicious turnip slaw (sauerruben). I saved a small jar to eat fresh with a tuna sandwich. It was really good! Bruce liked it too. A friend stopped by and she not only loved the turnip, she even loved the juice. There are all sorts of healthy things in fresh pickle juice. It’s in the same category of foods like yogurt and has all sorts of probiotics that aid in food digestion.
Knowing how to pickle is so important in food preservation. You can pickle almost anything and you need nothing but salt. I store a lot of salt and I’m thinking I should get a lot more while I can. Salt is cheap, it stores forever and has dozens of uses. The only downside is the weight. 80 pounds of salt seems to weigh more than 80 pounds of almost anything else. The first time I got an order, I thought I would pop a vessel before I got it in the house. I’m way to old for this nonsense.
When canning the sauerruben, I tried a way I have not used prior to this year. Rather than the twenty minutes at a full boil I went with 20 minutes at 180 degrees.I found that just below a simmer was just right. This has the advantage of keeping the beneficial bacteria alive while still sealing the jars for long-term storage. What I need to experiment with is just keeping the stuff in the basement root cellar without sealing it at all. I kept jars of mixed pickles for weeks on a kitchen counter last year and for months in the refrigerator. I don’t know how long would have lasted as my son, Nathan, loved the mixed vegetable pickles and ate them by the jar every time he came over.
I am more and more interested in preserving food without fossel fuel inputs. I wish I could come up with a dehydrator that would work in our humid location but I have only had success with my Excalibur. Even the old round dehydrator I picked up at a tag sale didn’t do the job unless I babysat it, rotating trays and turning food. The Excalibur is fast and easy. It’s loud and it throws off a lot of heat so I have been drying out on the deck. It’s cool enough to use inside now but the noise gets to me after a bit.
Welcome to all the new visitors. I read all of the comments each day. It is one of life’s little pleasures for me. In answer to the folks who have asked about my kitty problem; we are managing to keep the cat inside and I guess he’s getting used to it. He goes out in the middle of the night for a few hours and sleeps on the deck swing. It isn’t ideal but it has solved the bird issue. he yowled for a few days but that seems to have settled down. The egg recall has sparked a lot of comments. The crazy rules about keeping poultry only exist because of the unique place we are in history. As we relocalize those rules will become relics of a lost age.
I have a post script: I just got my new Lehman’s catalog. It’s the best one ever and right on the front page is an oil press! It’s $189.00 which is no small investment but it’s made in America, uses no electricity and can produce 8 cups of oil in an hour from a variety of sources like sunflower seed, grape seeds, walnuts and hazelnuts. Oil is a problem for long-term storage as good oil gets rancid quickly and it’s really expensive. I had just been talking with a friend about the problem the night before I got the catalog. I don’t think that everyone needs an oil press but it does seem like something a groups of neighbors, a church group or a relocalization organization might purchase together as an investment. An added benefit is that the cake left over from oil pressing can be feed to animals so it’s a zero waste process. I have got to get me one of these. I can grow sunflowers here in quantity. I can even see someone with enough nuts to make this into a nice little home based business. Too bad I can’t grow olives.