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Fermented Turnip Pickle


Fermented Turnip Pickle

Spicy fermented turnips with chile peppers

Leda Meredith

Fermented turnips are a traditional treat in both Asia and Europe. Crunchy and lightly tangy, they are excellent as part of a mixed vegetable salad. They are also great served alongside meat or poultry.

Fermented vegetables are super healthy. They are easier to digest than raw vegetables, and their nutrients are more easily assimilated by our bodies. Plus they are loaded with probiotics that are good for our digestive systems and overall health.

This recipe couldn't be easier - no canning, no sterilizing jars, no long list of ingredients. You can have all the work done in under 10 minutes. The only difficult part is waiting a week while the turnips ferment and the flavor develops.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3 pint jars


  • 7 - 8 medium turnips, peeled

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or other spicy chile pepper (optional)


Slice the turnips. You can julienne or grate them to make a traditional kraut-style sauerruben, or cut them into thin rounds or crescents for a crunchier pickle.

If using the chile pepper(s), remove the stem end. Slice into thin rounds, discarding the seeds as you go.

Loosely pack the turnips and peppers into clean glass jars. It is not necessary to sterilize the jars for lacto-fermented foods, just be sure they are really clean.

Make a brine by combining 3/4-teaspoon salt per cup of water. It is important to use non-chlorinated water because chlorine can interfere with the fermentation process. Filtered tap water is fine - I simply run mine through a Brita filter.

Pour the salt brine over the vegetables. Gently press down on the vegetables to release any air bubbles and to submerge them in the brine.

Cover the jar loosely with a lid, or with cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel. Place the jar on a plate to catch any overflow that may happen once active fermentation gets going.

Leave the jars at room temperature for 3 days. During this time, remove the covers at least once a day and check to see that the vegetables are still submerged in the brine (add additional salt brine if necessary). You should start to see some bubbles on top, which is a sign that fermentation is underway.

By the end of the 3 days, the turnips should have a clean, lightly sour smell and taste. Put the jars in the refrigerator (no need to put plates under them at this stage). Wait at least 5 more days for the flavor of your fermented turnips to develop.

This recipe also works well with rutabagas.

Lacto-fermented turnips will keep in the refrigerator for at least 6 months, but are best eaten within 3 months. After 3 months they tend to lose some of their crispness.

Tip: using young Spring turnips will result in a milder pickle. Leave out the chile pepper and simply enjoy the refreshing taste of fermented Spring turnips.

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