Sunday, January 10, 2010

Arabic Style Pickled Turnips

I so enjoyed the pickled turnip sticks at the Cedar Tree Lebanese restaurant that opened last fall in North Bay.  The pretty pink sticks were served as a condiment to the amazing meal that I shared with my mother and sister back in December.  Here I made them with my purple top white globe turnips and beets that I had left from the fall garden.  You need the beets to colour the turnip.  This beautiful red colour in beets is an anthocyanin (pigment) which is a powerful antioxidant.

I cooked extra beets at the same time to make a batch of the more traditional pickled beets with organic cane sugar, cloves and coriander seeds.

You can brush up on home canning food safety and general canning skills at Bernardin's home canning site, Nutrition and Homecanning and Eatright Ontario.  Find new recipes that practice good food safety practices.  For instance they now recommend that many pickles, including pickled beets, get processed in a boiling water bath after packing to further reduce food safety risk.  You can recycle jars and wire screw bands but you should use a new snap lid every time.  When canninng it is recommended that you don't reduce the amount of sugar or vinegar as we are sometimes inclined to do hoping we can make the recipe healthier.  The quantities shown allow for good food safety and preservation.I would rather be safe than sorry!

My original recipe is from "Middle Eastern Cookery" by Eva Zane (1974, 101 Productions, San Francisco).  The hand drawings make this book even more compelling and were done by Keith Halonen.  I have made the image of the original recipe large enough for you to read. 

(for 2 Jars 500 ml/1 pint each)

Beets that aren't pickled are considered a low acid food and would need to be canned using a pressure canner which reaches very high temperatures.  Here they are pickled and we can use the boiling water bath method.

Click on this link to go to a printable recipe.
1-2 large beets
5-6 small to medium size turnips
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs celery leaves
1 red onion cut into slivers
1 cup (250 ml) white wine vinegar- organic is best - it should have at least 6% acid
1 cup (250 ml) cooking liquid from beet
1 1/2 tsp (10 ml) pickling salt


Give the beets a good wash and trim off top leaving some of the stems and the root in tact.  Cover with cold water in pot and cover with lid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cooked through but only tender when pierced with a knife.  Let beets cool in water.  Peel.  Usually you can slip the beet skins off with your hands.  It didn't work this time for me so I used a sharp knife being careful to not peel away the flesh.  Save the liquid.

Cut each beet into 6-8 wedges depending on size. 

2.  Cook small turnips in another pot until just fork tender but not soft (read turnip and not rutabaga).  You are going to put them through a boiling water bath at the end so don't cook them too much as they will cook again in the jar.  Peel once cooked.  I cut them into sticks the best I could.  The ones I ate in the restaurant were sticks but quarters would be fine.

3.  Sterilize four canning jars and sealing rings.  Warm snap lids in hot water. 
4.  Slowly bring the wine vinegar, beet water and sea salt to a boil.
5.  Remove the jars when you are ready to fill them.  Into each warm jar layer the beet and turnip pieces placing sliced onion, garlic slivers and celery leaves between the layers as you go.  Cover with the vinegar mixture.  Put lids on jars to cover.  The turnips are traditionally cut batonette style (in square sticks).
6.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove from water and allow to cool on a towel.  You will hear the lids snap.  Store jars in a cool place.  Let sit for at least 10 days before eating.  I keep mine in the fridge as I only make 2 jars at a time.  You don't have to process these in the boiling water at all if you plan to keep them refrigerated and eat within a few weeks.

Note: If you have more vegetables than can fit into the jars I recommend you make more of the liquid and cover them and keep in the fridge to cure!  You can eat these first. 

I ate some of the pickled turnips this week and thought they were really good.  They have no sugar at all.  I will make them again!!   I am looking forward to serving them with meals at my Moroccan cooking classes.

NUTRITION FACTS (assuming about 50 grams each or 15 servings per jar):
10 calories, 0 g fat, 135 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fibre, 0 g protein.  %Daily Values are 8% vitamin C.


Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Great, Nancy! My friend and I were just remarking on these pickled turnip that we had with our meal from The Cedar Tree also. She'll be glad when I forward your blog post.
I love your photos on all your posts, by the way!

Nancy Guppy, MHSc, RD said...

Thanks Norma. I am sure the recipe will even get better. Do you think they pre-cooked the turnip sticks or put them in raw?

Nate @ House of Annie said...

They really look delicious! The Koreans and Japanese have a pickled turnip dish called "takuwan", but it's yellow instead of red. (actually, I don't quite like the flavor.) I'd love to try some of your pickled turnips.

Since you're using homegrown ingredients, you can enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month. Full details at

Nancy Guppy, MHSc, RD said...

Below is another version from Ken Bowie.

Pickled Pink Turnips for Shwarma Wraps
or Grilled Cheese...hehe

- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 2 lb. of turnip (I useo ne a little bigger than a softball)
- 1 small beet
- celery leaves

Cut the ends off of the beet and turnips and boil for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the... water and peel.

Slice the beet and cut the turnip into french fry sticks, and put those in a big clean jar with the garlic and celery leaves.

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil to dissolve, then pour it
over the vegetables. Seal and leave it on the counter for ten days,
then refridgerate. (*ahem* - I tore through half of them in the first
night, soooooo...... :D

ps...dont try to Fack with the spices or seasoning in this is what it is!!!

Anonymous said...

I know I'm 2.5 years late chiming in here,but I just saw this. I make lacto fermented turnip which taste amazing and are full of probiotic. They are made with no vinegar and the brine is water, whey and sea salt. Left on the counter for 2-3 days and stored in cold storage.