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The Blues Beating Root Crop

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Who knew a turnip would be the cure to winter cooking doldrums? And that all it requires is a quick wash, a little slicing with a sharp knife and maybe some salt? Hakurei turnips, the snowy white globe of a crop, are my latest culinary fascination. This time of year when every meal needs hours and hours of braising, it’s incredibly refreshing to eat these turnips raw with their crunchy and slightly sweet bites.

Developed in the 1950’s by some inventive Japanese farmers, this variety does well in the Finger Lakes, and is a staple at winter farmers’ markets and in CSA shares around now.

In my kitchen we usually just wash these turnips, slice them in chip sizes and use them with dips. They’re surprisingly juicy, with only a slightly spicy radish flavor. You can roast them like any other root vegetable, but why bother when there’s all that other slow cooking to do?

Pickled Hakurei Turnips

Wash 1 bunch Hakurei turnips and thinly slice. Place slices in a small bowl and toss with a teaspoon of salt. Let rest for about 30 minutes. Drain the turnips and move to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Add ½ cup Verjooz (a local vinegar type mix of unripe grape juice), 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper, 1 sliced garlic clove and 1 slice of fresh ginger. Screw the lid on tight; give the jar a good shake and place in the fridge for at least two hours. Pickles will keep for a week to 10 days. Serve with a cheese platter or eat straight out of the jar.

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