Pickle means Turşu in Turkish and it is the favorite winter season side dish of Turkish Cuisine. We are considering pickles as a side dish in our culture because we usually prefer to eat them with the main courses.
In Turkey, there are more than 150 different varieties of Pickles. Turşu word means the fermentation action of vegetables and fruits with either lemon juice or vinegar in Turkey. The rich Turkish soils give us this precious opportunity to us to turn every vegetable and fruit into pickles. My favorite pickle variety is called Çubuk Turşusu. This variety is made with the cucumber which grows only in the Çubuk Village of Ankara City.
In Turkey, there are two opposite sides that think differently from each other about using grape vinegar or lemon juice better for making fine Turkish Pickles. I am not a Pickle master so I cannot say any certain opinion; however, lemon juice supporters’ idea seems more logical to me. They say grape vinegar is starting to melt the pickles much faster than using lemon juice which means using vinegar fastening the fermentation process.
In Turkey, we also love to drink pickle juice. It is full of minerals and a natural pain killer. Sometimes, we just go to a pickle shop to drink pickle juice. It has countless benefits for the body the doctors in Turkey say.
Where to eat Turkish Pickles?
If you are visiting Istanbul, there is no better place than Asri Turşucu. The family has Turşu (pickle) business for more than a century. And they prefer to use lemon juice for their pickles. If you are visiting Ankara, the best place to eat Turşu is the Hüsmen Ağa pickle shop. I cannot say which the best one is because both shops are making delicious Turkish Pickles.
What are the secrets of making Turkish Pickles?
- Only use rock salt, lemon juice, garlic and boiled water for fermentation.
- If you put less amount of rock salt than it should, the pickles will become soft and this is not what we want. The pickles should be rock solid.
- Never open the jar until the time has come to check if the vegetables in the jar turn to pickle or not. If you do that, you ruin the fermentation process by letting the air get into the jar. Every time you open the jar, the fermentation process breaks down and it needs to start again after you close the jar lid.
- You may see jars full of mixed vegetables such as carrots, cabbages, cucumber and etc. This is the wrong way of making pickles. Never make pickles by mixing different vegetable species. Such as, just making pickles from cucumbers or from cabbages. It is because each vegetable fermentation time period is different than the others. For example Cabbage’s fermentation process is faster than cucumbers.
As I mentioned above there are more than 150 different pickle varieties in Turkish Cuisine and below I’m giving you the beloved Turkish style of Cucumber Pickles recipe.
Turkish Cucumber Pickle
- 1 kg English cucumbers
- 1 lt Boiled Cold Water
- 100 gr rock salt divided into 3 portions.
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 lemon sliced
- 3 juice of lemon
Wash English cucumbers and let them dry. Place the cucumbers to the jar vertically. After placing the first row of cucumbers, put lemon slices and garlic cloves between the cucumbers and add the first portion of rock salt.
Continue steps until the jar is full of cucumbers and no space left at the top of the jar. (Letting minimum air gap at the top of the jar helps better fermentation).
Pour the juices of lemon to the jar. And then pour the Boiled cold water until to the top of jar. (The amount of the water depends on the size of your jar).
Close the jar lid very well and let the jar wait 3 weeks at room temperature and shade. (During the waiting/fermentation period never open the lid).
After the 3 weeks, open the jar and serve.
Tip: For long-life span, keep the pickles at refrigerator after first serving.