Trust no one unless you have eaten much salt with him.
—Cicero, De Amicitia

Despite good intentions, no doubt you have (as I do) roots hanging out in your refrigerator–what to do, what to do?

Well, culture them. No, don’t take them to a concert (though it couldn’t hurt); immerse them in a solution of salt and whey for a few weeks, and voila! those roots become ‘pickles’, which will keep for months, and can be eaten as a condiment or side dish. Full of enzymes and “good’ bacteria (like their cousins, sauerkraut and kimchi, and like yogurt), culturing roots is a great and easy way to use up all those roots without having to make another soup…

Following is a recipe for making whey, and then recipes for culturing carrots, turnips (with beets) and daikon radish.

Making Whey

1 quart raw milk, if you can get it
or
1 quart yogurt, either homemade, or organic store-bought, with no thickeners, etc.

For the raw milk, let it stand at room temperature until it distinctly separates–this can take anywhere from 2 days to as many as 6 days. There will be two layers, a milky liquid and a more solid white layer.

Once it separates, line a colander with a clean dish towel, place over a bowl and pour in the contents of the jar. Cover and allow it to drip for few hours. What is in the bowl is the whey; in the colander, “farmer’s cheese”–delicious spread on toast or apple slices.

For the yogurt, just line a colander with a clean dish towel, place over a bowl and pour in the container of yogurt. Cover and allow to drip for about 6 hours. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the colander. You can let the yogurt drip for up to 24 hours–after the 6 hours, you might want to put the bowl in the refrigerator. The milk solids are “yogurt cheese” and have many culinary uses.

Store the whey and “cheese’, separately, in glass jars in the refrigerator. The whey will keep for about six months and the “cheese” about a month.

Cultured (Ginger) Carrots

4 c grated carrots, tightly packed
1 T freshly grated ginger, optional
2 T sea salt
4 T whey (if not available, use an additional T of sea salt)

1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder, meat hammer or potato masher to release juices.

2. Place in a quart wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with something, like the pounder or hammer, or the bottom of a glass jar, etc. until juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar–if not, remove some of the carrots.

3. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days. Transfer to the refrigerator. They’re ready to eat now, but get better with age (as we all do).

Cultured Turnips

2-1/2 c turnips (peeled), quartered and sliced
3/4 c beets, (peeled), quartered and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 T sea salt
4 T whey (if not available, use an additional T of sea salt)
1 c filtered water

1. Mix vegetables and place in a quart wide-mouth mason jar. Press down lightly with a wooden pounder, meat hammer or bottom of a glass jar. Mix water with salt and whey and pour over vegetables, adding more water if necessary to cover the turnip mixture.

2. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar–if it’s higher, remove some of the vegetables. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 3 days before refrigerating. They’re ready now, but will taste much better after at least a couple of weeks.

Cultured Daikon Radish

Any of the radishes in the winter share can be used here–or in combination.

3-lbs daikon radish (peeled) and grated
1 T sea salt
4 T whey (if not available, use an additional T of sea salt)

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and pound with a wooden pounder, meat hammer or potato masher to release juices.

2. Place radish mixture in a quart wide-mouthed mason jar and press down lightly until juices come to the top of the radish mixture. The top of the radish mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar, if not, remove some until it is.

3. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 3 days before refrigerating. Eat now or wait at least a couple of weeks.

Ciao!