Monday, February 25, 2013

Pickled Turnip مخلل اللفت

Pickled Turnip
I usually go to the farmer's market around its closing time to get great deals on seasonal offerings. Farmers dont really like to bring back produce home and they try their best to get rid of them by the time they want to leave resulting in decent discounted prices. Turnip,when in season, is often the last item sold (if ever) in the farmer's market. Turnip is misunderstood and underutilized in the US. I heard that it is usually boiled (poor thing) and eaten as a side. Turnip is one of the stars of any self respecting Middle Eastern table and these pickled turnips are my pride and joy.
I know what you are thinking...did I use any food coloring to get this vibrant color? the answer is no, slices of beet are traditionally used to bring color to turnips. Turnips usually turn pale without the beet slices. Using beets is a genius authentic way to please the eye because trust me, the taste buds will be very happy. So in case you are wondering how to eat it, well the answer is with everything. It is a condiment and it is often eaten with everything. Here is a sample of how it is eaten:
Breakfast: It is eaten with Fool Moodamas (cooked fava beans) or scrambled egg.
Lunch: it is eaten with Mujadara (cooked Lenils) or tuna.
Snack: it is eaten with Hummus. (No one really eats hummus as a snack in the Middle East but people love it in the US) or in my case just pickles on its own. My name is Nadine and I am pickleholic.
Dinner: Grilled Kafta or Chicken...etc.

I served the pickled turnips with a simple smoked salmon open face sandwich. Smoked salmon and acidity are good friends and turnip in this case was a great but unusual choice. I told you that pickled turnips go with everything you eat!
Pickled Turnips and Smoked Salmon
Now that I convinced you that you need to go and buy turnips, I am going to show you how it is done. It is a basic recipe for a brining liquid and can be used to pickle anything really. Unlike the traditional American recipe for brining; sugar is not used in the brining liquid. I honestly still don't understand why Americans prefer to use sugar in the brining liquid or salad dressings. May be to offset the acidity but it is like offsetting something that you want. If you have an answer for that, please let me know. Please consider yourself warned: acidity will be encountered when you eat pickled anything.

Salt: Rock salt is often used when pickling but it was not easy to find it so I used coarse salt. However, avoid the use of regular fine table salt since Iodine is added and it will make your pickles bitter. Use 1/3 cup of coarse salt for every 3 cups of water (750 ml) such as sea salt or kosher salt. Or use 1 tablespoon of rock salt for every 2 cups of water (500 ml). The general rule of salt is to use enough salt to make an egg float in the water (make sure that you wash that egg first). 

Garlic and Spice: some people like them and some don't, I made some jars with garlic and others without it. I don't use spicy peppers because I have little tolerance for spicy food and Alya my daughter loves anything pickled.  Some people use bay leaves, I did not use any because I want my pickled turnip simple and pure. So go ahead, add what you like. 

Preparing the jars:
Preheat oven 220 F
You can use any jar you like. Pickled turnips don't really need to be canned unless you are preserving them for a longer time. They really don't last more than 2 weeks in my house.
  • Wash the jars and lids (lids and bands if using traditional ball or kerr jars) with soap and water. dry the jars from the inside and outside with a clean kitchen towel. Place the clean jars on a clean baking sheet. Place the baking sheet inside the oven for 20 minutes. This will sterilize the jars. It is easier to get the jars in and out of the oven when placed on a baking sheet. Let the jars cool down to room temperature before use.
  • Boil some water, turn the heat down. Add the lids (and band if using) and let them sit in the hot water for ten minutes. Use clean tongs to remove them from hot water and let them dry on a clean kitchen or paper towel. lids (and bands) are sterilized now too. Avoid touching them from the inside because you will transfer bacteria. Let them air dry.
The brining liquid:
3 cups (750 ml) water
1/3 cup (70 g) coarse salt (I used Morton Kosher Salt)
1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar (distilled)

1 pound (1/2 kg) turnips, peeled
1 small beet, or a few slices from a regular-size beet, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced to be used in some of the jars


1. Heat a cup of the water in a pot and add the salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and let the liquid cool down to room temperature. Once it is cool, add the vinegar and the rest of the water. You may not use all the liquid depending on the sizes of the jar you use.

3. While you are waiting for the liquid to cool down, wash the turnips and beet and peel them. Cut the them into 1/2 inch thick slices and cut each slice in the middle into 2 pieces. I don't like to cut them any smaller because they tend to become mushy if you wait too long to eat them. Crunchiness is key when it comes to pickles. Put the turnips, beets, and garlic slices if using into clean jars (use any size jar you like, I used a medium one and a small one), then pour the brining liquid over them in the jar.
Turnips and Beets: peeled and cut
4. Cover and let sit at room temperature, in a relatively cool place, for one week. Once done, they can be refrigerated until ready to serve. once you open a jar, please refrigerate. They look very pale on the beginning but they become vibrant magenta within days.
Turnips ready to be sealed:Day 1
I hear that they will will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Mine never last that long, they are often devoured within 2 weeks. If you want to know more about canning them, please go to USDA



  1. I cant wait for you to try it! it is turnip season too.Hurray for turnip!

  2. I like pickles without sugar as well. Have a look on the Everybody Likes Sandwiches blog - she has just posted a recipe for a winter slaw with rutabaga/turnip in it.