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Quick Pickled Baby Turnips and Beets


Here’s my farmers’ market version of the ubiquitous pickled turnip condiment found at falafel and hummus shops. Use pearly white, small Japanese turnips, their tops, and a few young red beets that dye everything in the jar deep magenta. Chioggia (candy-striped) beets will impart a paler pink tint. If you have large turnips, peel and blanch them, as you do the beets in this recipe, and slice them. This is my favorite cool-weather pickled accompaniment to chopped chicken or duck livers and is always part of an array of sours on a mezze table.   Yield: 1 quart


1. Scrub beets well and cook them in salted boiling water for five minutes. Drain, rinse under cool running water, and when cool enough to handle, rub off skins. Cut beets in half through the stem end, place cut side down, and cut into slices 1/4 inch (six millimiters) thick.
2. If the turnips are one inch or so in diameter, cut them in half through the stem end. If they are a little larger, quarter them.
3. Pack beets and turnips into a clean one quart jar or two one-pint jars along with the garlic and chiles, including some chile seeds in the jar as desired for added heat.
4. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a plastic bag, and crack them using the flat side of a large knife. In a medium pot, combine the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, coriander, and cumin and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for three minutes, then pour the hot brine over turnips and beets. You may have more brine than you need, but make sure that all the coriander and cumin seeds get into the jar(s).
5. Cap jar(s) tightly and let stand in a sunny spot for the day. Refrigerate vegetables for at least 12 hours before serving. They will keep several weeks in the refrigerator.



Kitchen note:

The term quick (also known as fresh-pack) refers to pickles ready in a matter of hours rather than the week required for refrigerator pickles, or the three required for true fermented pickles and sauerkraut. Because of their short curing time, quick pickles aren’t considered self-sealing or shelf-stable over a long period unless they are properly canned, that is sealed, in a water bath process.