I became addicted to pickled turnips shortly after I found a love for arabic food! (lamb is probably the closest tasting meat I’ve found to the taste of wild venison – lamb shwarma and lamb kafka – yummy!!! Being in SE Michigan is a great place to be for great arabic and Mediterranean food, and most of them use pickled turnips in their recipes or for garnishes on the side. (although I usually ask for an extra side bowl full of them and often head over to the NW side of Detroit and the Warren area to seek out the small shops and delis that regularly make the stuff fresh!)
A few years back a dear friend of mine showed me his wife had put up a large batch of pickled turnips herself attributing it to her polish roots as well. (I’m also 1/4 polish) I’ve made my own pierogis many times so I got her method of making the turnips and added my own flair to it. (keep in mind, when I cook there really isn’t a ‘recipe’ per se – I tend to wing it and try different variations every time)
Usually the best combination to start with is one beet, a quarter of a large white onion, quarter of a red onion and about 3-4 cloves of garlic per 5-6 turnips. I generally slice them horizontal (based on how they grow in the ground mind you) into about 3/16″ circular slices – same goes for the beats. I also include 3-5 red radishes (sliced up) per beet and usually chop up some of the garlic and usually like to add a bunch of the garlic as whole (peeled of course) cloves in the mix as well.
I don’t worry about actual canning as they seldom last long enough around me to justify it anyway. Last time I used a mix of about 1/3 white vinegar, 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 1/3 water adding just over a cup of canning salt in a large 2 gallon glass pickling jar. That size jar will hold about 2-3 dozen turnips/beets.
Pretty much it’s easy. Mix up the turnip and beet slices with the onions and garlic. Add close to 2 tablespoons of peppercorns (usually one black and one color-mixed). You can also add a couple flowerettes of fresh dill if you want more of a ‘pickle’ taste. I usually like to add the leaves from celery for a spice to such stuff and sometimes will add a tablespoon or two of lemonjuice depending on my mood. I have also heard of some people adding fresh ginger peelings.
Make sure the salt is well absorbed in the vinegar/water mixture and add all the ingredients making sure all of them are submerged. You can even add a couple of dried red chilis to it if you want a little ‘zing’ to the final result. Throw the whole thing in the fridge and let them stand a good 3-5 days. The beets will slowly turn the whole mixture a wonderful red color as all the flavors inter-twine!
They are best when the turnips are just starting to soften up but still have a crisp ‘snap’ as you bite into them. I can easily down that 2 gallon jar in under a week! lol