Tuesday, August 28, 2007

pink and crunchy!

preserving vegetables, especially when at their best, is something that has been done globally for centuries. while the methods and ingredients to do so range from country to country, the end result is always the same — vegetables of all kinds saved for the weeks and months to come while at the height of their availability and freshness.

one of the easiest preserved vegetables to make are the very popular blushing pink turnips eaten with all kinds of middle eastern mezze and, of course, the very item that makes up the unmistakable crunchy element of falafel sandwiches.

i have heard many people become disappointed when they attempt to make these pickles because they end up with blood red turnips. recipes for this popular condiment often include almost equal amounts of beets in proportion to turnip. this is because the beets are included as a main ingredient and not a colouring agent — the colour of the turnips is besides the point.

if it's that light pink you're after, then ....

most, if not all, recipes for making torshi lift pickles call for inordinate amounts of beets which render the final turnips a crimson red for the above stated reason and not that pink that one is used to seeing (like those served at restaurants). some places, i have been told, actually dye the turnips that colour with a little red food grade colouring. to naturally get a light red or pinkish blush to the pickled turnips, one must not be so heavy handed on the beets, unless of course you like them dark red.

these pickles take a good two weeks (and up to three) to be ready, so make them as a fun sunday afternoon-type project and enjoy watching them go from white to a pinkish red as the days progress. you can also take out the piece(s) of beetroot when you have the colour you like, just make sure to do it with a sterile fork or knife. i'd cut through one of the turnip pieces first to check if it's coloured all the way through, however.

to make these you need a glass jar that can accommodate at least 4 cups of water. it must be perfectly and absolutely clean to prevent possibility of bacterial growth (which almost never happens when things are clean).

one last thing before i forget, the turnips used here are the small white-fleshed ones. don't use the large yellow-fleshed rutabaga type.

pickled pink turnips — torshi lift
טורשי לפת (לפת כבושה) — مخلل لف


3 small turnips (size of a small fist)
1 - 2 smallish sized beets (i highly suggest using only 1)
4 to 5 cloves garlic, whole
1 1/2 tbsp kosher (coarse) salt
3 - 3 1/2 c cold water

note: i do not use vinegar in mine. if you want it, add about 1/3 - 1/2 c of white vinegar, reducing that amount in water.


peel the beets. slice them into 3/4 inch slices.

place the slices on their sides and cut again into 1/2 inch slices. you will have finger shapes and 1/2 moon shapes from the end pieces.

peel the cloves of garlic and then take your knife and cut each clove crosswise but not all the way through (approximately 3/4 of the way through). this gives a more pronounced garlic flavour to the pickles. set aside.

in your jar, place the turnips and then the garlic on top.

now under running water, peel the beet(s) UNCOOKED, but watch it — the water can splash and stain your clothes so wear stuff you don't care about or an apron.

cut the beet(s) in half or quarters OR into slices. you can add the half or the whole beet (or both if using 2), depending on the size. the fewer and larger the pieces, the lighter a pink colour it will be. you'll have to experiment as i can't tell you exactly how much to add. the flip side is that not enough will result in no colour at all. take note that if you cut the beets into 3/8" slices, or something around that thickness, you increase the surface area and release more of the beets' pigment (this is how i most usually do it (with one very small beet only)).

add the beet on top the vegetables.

add the salt and then fill with the cold water. you need enough to cover the vegetables. note that they will float after but don't worry about it.

now tightly seal the jar and shake for a good minute to dissolved the salt.

place on your counter near the window and shake once a day for two to two and a half weeks. store the pickles in the fridge afterwards. they will last several months that way.



Beenzzz said...

This actually sounds really good!

burekaboy — said...

hi beenzzz - not everyone loves 'em but they are really good, IMO. turnip isn't at the top of the list of "most loved" vegetables, LOL.

TopChamp said...

that's the best blog-post title I have ever seen!

burekaboy — said...

hey TC - thanks ... had no clue what to call it at first — sometimes the titles just don't come too easily. went for the obvious, here.

hope you're well & staying out of trouble ;)

Anonymous said...

I made this according to your recipe yesterday although I was unable to match the precision of your perfectly measured, exactly cut turnip pieces. I don't know if I can wait the two weeks before trying it! Just so you know, I had to eat up what was left of my 2L jar of pickles so I could use the glass jar to contain it. If all goes well, it will grace my table for Succot!


burekaboy — said...

deanna - i actually cracked up when i read your message!! this is TOTALLY not the kind of recipe people are precise with -- it's just me being "neurotic". the turnip can be cut in either sticks or in half moon type shapes.

i know what you mean, it's hard to wait! you can actually try testing one by the end of week 1. it should start to sour (i.e. pickle) by then. note that it will be both a little soft but crunchy in texture; they firm up some once they are fully pickled and refrigerated.

hope you like them :) usually by day 3 they starting to turn pink, depending on how you cut the beet.