You may have tried making sauerkraut in the past, but have you added other vegetable ferments to your repertoire? This tutorial on how to make fermented beets and turnips may help you to get some additional probiotics into your diet. Use this tangy condiment as a salad topping, on a grain, or to top a burger! The only ingredients you need are the veggies and some salt.
After my little adventure in making fermented sauerkraut, I knew that I wanted to try fermenting some other vegetables. Just like with fermenting red cabbage, I recommend investing in a fermenting kit with jar weights and airlock lids. I’ve linked to the kit I use, but other brands should also help you have great results.
The jar weights and lids are for use with quart-sized wide-mouth canning jars. The jars can be picked up very inexpensively in stores like Walmart and Target. They are great for storing dried legumes, dried grains, and homemade yogurt (yogurt goes in the fridge, of course).
It’s not too difficult to find fresh sauerkraut in the stores, but other vegetable ferments are less likely to be available. You can greatly broaden the diversity of fermented veggies in your diet when you DIY. This mix of fermented beets and turnips is a combination I’ve not seen locally.
If you need a meal idea for this one, I last served it up with some roasted Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potato fries, and a (lean!) grass-finished cheeseburger. Those sprouts look super shiny in the lighting, but I only added a little olive oil.
(Did you know that some food photographers spray the food with oil to make it look better in photos? I’ve never tried it since I am planning on eating the things I photograph!)
The difference between fermenting beets and fermenting cabbage
I’ve learned through reading up on the topic that fermenting beets can be far more challenging than fermenting cabbage. The beets can turn into alcohol quite easily. If you are new to vegetable ferments, sauerkraut is a better first project for beginners.
There are a few strategies that can help increase your chances of success when fermenting beets. I’ve utilized most of them in this recipe. They are:
- Properly sanitize equipment before starting (critical with any ferment)
- Use more salt than you would use for sauerkraut to help discourage unwanted bacterial growth
- Use a mixture of beets and turnips (or another veggie) instead of just beets
- Cut the beets into larger pieces than you would for fermented cabbage (this one I chose not to do)
Similar to cabbage ferments, you should use canning salt, pickling salt, or fine-grain sea salt here. Iodized salt is not a good choice for this recipe.
Since we are using a lot of salt, this one is not appropriate for those on low-sodium diets. You will consume less salt than is used in the recipe if you drain the brine from the veggies prior to eating. Rinsing the ferment decreases the sodium level even more, though some probiotics may also be lost in this process.
I am one of those weird people who could happily eat sauerkraut straight from the jar. However, this ferment definitely needs to be treated more like a condiment because it is very salty.
One more tip about this ferment is that it mellows out and becomes better with age after a few days in the fridge. The turnip flavor becomes less sharp, and the flavor is just more enjoyable overall. (At least that is the opinion of my family.)
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Fermented Beets and Turnips Recipe
- 15 ounces peeled turnips, shredded (425 grams; about 3 cups)
- 5 ounces peeled beets, shredded (142 grams; about 1 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt or finely ground sea salt (not iodized salt)
- 1 teaspoon dill weed, dried
- ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- Important! Please read the post accompanying this recipe before you begin. It contains essential equipment information that you do not want to miss.
- Wash and sanitize your metal and glass equipment in the dishwasher before you begin. I did not use a boiling water bath to sterilize the equipment, since we are not fermenting in an anaerobic environment nor canning the sauerkraut.
- Put the beets, turnips, garlic clove, dill, and mustard seeds in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Stir and pound this mixture for at least 10 minutes. It should turn a uniform color and release a lot of juice, creating a salty brine.
- Pack the beet and turnip mixture very tightly into the sterilized 4-cup canning jar. Put your glass jar weight into the jar.
- The brine should be at least 1-inch (2.54 cm) above the level of the vegetable mixture. I found the beets and turnips released a lot of juice, so this was not an issue.
- Put the airlock lid on the jar. Leave the jar at room temperature to ferment (approximately 70°F/21°C.) My house is a little cooler than this at this time of the year, so I snuggled the jar next to a heating pad on the lowest setting.
- Important! Check the jar daily. Open it and skim off any foam or "scum" that has formed on top of the brine. Replace the airlock lid when you have finished. You can also add more brine if needed, but this will likely be unnecessary if you use the airlock lid. I found that no brine skimming was needed (unlike when I made sauerkraut).
- Your ferment will be ready in three days. When it is finished fermenting, store it in the fridge with a regular canning jar lid and rim. Keep the jar weight in the jar to keep the veggies pressed below the level of the brine.
- This recipe makes approximately two cups of fermented beets and turnips, or eight ¼-cup servings. It is best enjoyed after several days resting in the fridge, this allows the sharp flavor of the turnips to mellow a bit.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). This recipe yielded approximately 2 cups of fermented beets and turnips. With ¼-c servings, this works out to a mere 20 calories per serving. (Think of low and moderate-carb veggies as your BFF if your goal is weight loss.) As long as you aren’t on a low-sodium diet, this is a nice way to add some extra zing to meals. You’ll get more veggies and prebiotics in. As mentioned above, we preferred the flavor of this condiment after several days in the fridge. It’s great on a salad, grain bowl, or as a burger topping!
If you’ve ever wondered how to make fermented beets (or other veggies), I hope that today’s post helped you out! If you’re already a slow food DIY-er, what are some other veggies you’ve tried fermenting? I welcome new ideas on what to try next!