The richness of Turkish cuisine is evident to all. Turkish tables at mealtime first impress the eyes and then satisfy the stomach. During cold winter days, pickles are a must-eat food. People throughout the Middle East, especially the Turks, have long been addicted to pickles ("turşu" in Turkish) – a food whose history goes back to the time of the Uyghur Turks. Indeed, the royals of the Ottoman Empire refused to sit at the table without pickled cabbage. They created special gardens to grow various vegetables to make pickles. At the time of the Tulip Era, the Ottomans used to gather at "halwa communes" where they would taste both halwa (a confection) and pickles. Sema Temizkan, the author of "Turşu" (Pickles) said that while pickles are served with meals today, the main dish used to be made with pickles many years ago. Special skills are needed to prepare certain kinds of pickles, Temizkan continued. She said that those who do not have time generally buy ready-made pickles, but she recommends buying them from well-known places. Temizkan reminded that homemade pickles are the best type, and it is not a good idea to buy pickles from street sellers. "I do not want to look down own those who sell pickles on the street, they do so only to earn money. But they put additives during the pickling process to make it taste better and extend its shelf life. This product threatens human health," Temizkan said. She added that the pickles on offer by street sellers are often hard. "Pickles should be soft, but crack when you bite into them," she continued. According to Temizkan, the current season is the best time to prepare pickles. "Today, women living in metropolitan cities know how to make pickles. It does not take much time. There are a few key steps to pay attention to, but it is easy to make," Temizkan said. However, today's consumer society does not have time to wait around, even in the kitchen. Due to hormone-injected vegetables and fruits, it becomes difficult to prepare good pickles. "The pickles that I made from the vegetables bought from an organic food market spoiled after a few weeks," she said.
It is very important to use fresh vegetables while making pickles. The size of vegetables should also be taken into account, because the smaller the vegetable or fruit, the more delicious the pickle will taste. It is also important to use rock salt for the brine of the pickles. Furthermore, use bottled water instead of tap water to minimize the amount of chemicals in the brine.
Here are some famous places in Turkey that offer delicious pickles:
Asri Turşucu: Founded in 1913, Asri Turşucu offers pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, cherries, oranges, grapes, apples, eggs, carrots, leeks, beans, corn, mandarins, quinces, beets, garlic, cranberries, Russian turnips and white cucumbers. The secret of these tasty pickles is unripe grapes and Uludağ water. They also offer pickle juice to their customers.
Vonalı Celal: Celal Öztürk has been making pickles in Ordu for years and only uses salt, pepper, garlic and plums. He says he can make any type of pickle and offers 120 varieties of pickles in his restaurants. The famous venue is busy with orders coming from both locals and individuals abroad. Öztürk has two branches in Istanbul's Levent and Kadıköy neighborhoods.
Azeri Turşucu: One of Turkey's oldest pickle houses, Azeri Turşucu is situated in Ankara. They use citric acid, bay leaf and dill seeds in their pickles.
Pickled cucumber recipe
l 2 kilograms of cucumbers
l Lemon or 1.5 cups of vinegar
l Garlic cloves
l 2 liters of water
l 1 cup of rock salt
l A pinch of parsley
Cut off the cucumber stalks and bore a hole in them with a knife. It will help the pickle brine absorb into the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers and garlic in a large bowl. Add vinegar or lemon, salt and drinking water into a container and mix the items before adding the cucumber and garlic into the brine-filled container. As a final touch, add the parsley – it will make the pickle last longer. Close the jar firmly and refrigerate for four weeks before enjoying. Bon appetite!