Pickled Turnips and You

When my wife and I decided to join our local CSA, I knew that I would be able to score some hipster points. Not only has this CSA allowed me to be more frugal, but is has also given me many opportunities to mention offhandedly how I do my part to support local farmers, eat organically and seasonally, and stave off climate change by not needing to buy produce that is shipped using carbon fuels.

What I didn’t expect was all the roots. I’ve definitely made the most out of the situation over the past two months, being the good house husband and preparing all sorts of interesting dishes. This past week, though, I definitely earned some hipster bonus points. Hipsters have a weird thing about self-sustainability: I like to grow my own food, make my own cleaning products, brew my own beer, and build my own furniture. It’s as if every hipster is secretly or subconsciously preparing for Y2K to actually happen.

Of course, in order to survive more than just the summer months, hipsters must also master either the art of dumpster diving or the art of food preservation (or both). With my recent unexpected abundance of turnips, I knew I needed to find a way to make them last longer than their natural freshness. When it comes to food preservation, there are four basic ways to make your fresh food last longer: drying, freezing, fermenting, and canning. Of course, within each category there exists subcategories: smoking, curing, jamming, and our topic today: pickling. Pickling is an interesting mix between the disciplines of fermenting and canning, and is a great way to infuse your vegetables with new flavors while making them last past their local growing seasons.

When it comes to turnips, there are only so many turnips that one man and wife can eat within a two month period. I knew I needed to spread the turnip love throughout the year, and thus the google searching began. “Turnip recipes” turned to “what to do with turnips” turned to “preserving turnips” and eventually I stumbled upon this recipe for pickled turnips. I became inspired.

The only tweaks that I made to the recipe he lays out are threefold: I didn’t add a bay leaf (I didn’t have one); I added a lot more garlic; and I also added a few shallots that I happened to have on hand. Oh, and I threw in some peppercorns.

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It was difficult to let the week go by in which these white wonders turned to pink pretties, but it was well worth the wait. I figured that I’d be able to put a handful of these in my packed lunches every day for a couple of weeks, but as soon as the jar was open they were gone within a three day period. Besides all the hipster points earned in this endeavor, I now have a new favorite snack that I know is locally and organically grown!

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Winter Roots and Blues

As a hipster, I try to use those obscure words or pronunciations of words that allow me to seem smarter than other people without actually knowing anything more. I’ll call suspenders “braces,” use the British pronunciation of “perseverance,” and insist that, originally, the T in “often” is supposed to be silent. More recently, I’ve really been enjoying the word “locavore.”

A locavore is one of those people that is committed to eating locally and even seasonally in order to support the local economy and agriculture. It’s also great to not have to think about the thousands of miles a particular tomato traveled in order to arrive in your salad, when it was last “alive,” and how nutrient-starved it has become along its little journey.

Living in Lancaster Pennsylvania sure makes it easy to find fresh produce. In fact, it can be tough to avoid it in the summer. Fresh and locally grown vegetables are still here in the winter: you just have to know where to find them. This year, my wife and I were excited to join our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program through the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative as a means to fulfilling our desire to maintain our locavore status (especially because I can’t survive solely on Thistle Finch).

We are now five weeks into the 15 week winter season, and I have to be honest, we have been eating a lot of roots. Yes, roots. Not the good kind of roots: the Americana music genre featured at Lancaster’s Roots and Blues festival this weekend. No, these roots are the kind that live underground all their lives until we get to eat them.

Potatoes, carrots, shallots, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, beets. It’s been an interesting month. I certainly have expanded my culinary boldness. I’ve mashed, roasted, juiced, fried, and baked these things into submission. I’ll be honest, after the first few weeks, I didn’t think I would be able to go the distance. But as I begin to push my palate to new places, I have started to see the beauty in the complexity of the root. While some offer smooth and mild flavors, others are sweet, and still others spicy. My taste for the tuber has grown to the point that I am no longer singing the blues over these roots. Now you’ll hear me singing the praises of the fruit that sun forgot.

So go ahead and enter into the life of the locavore. Because even if you think these roots taste like the dirt they’re grown in, at least you know that dirt is local.

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