Turkish Food: Celebrating Turşu In Istanbul

People who read this blog a lot will know that we have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Turkish pickles. Type pickles into our search box on the left and you will see the list of posts we’ve done in celebration of the tantalising taste of fruit and vegetables preserved in vinegar. Even the thought of it now is making my mouth water. We love pickles!

There’s something about winter that brings out those pickle cravings; a craving to make pickles (we’ve made and crunched our way through 2 rather large tubs of homemade pickled red cabbage recently) and a craving to eat pickles.

Turkish Pickles As Street Food

Enjoying turşu suyu – sipping pickle juice in Eminönü

A few months back, a Turkish friend told us to make sure we bought some pickles from the street the next time we were in Istanbul. It’s a winter thing, she told us.

Well, the weather was definitely behaving as if winter was upon us and, as we were wandering around Eminönü in October, we spotted a turşucu (pickle seller). We’d just finished munching on some other street food loveliness but a cup of turşu wasn’t going to do us any harm, was it?

1.5TL bought us a plastic cup of karışık turşu (mixed pickles) and a little plastic fork…and then we were free to walk around in public, slurping pickles and pickle vinegar while ambling across Galata Bridge. How heavenly is that?

Pickle appreciators everywhere will appreciate that one! And yes, we drank the vinegar between us, too. We wanted to, other people were doing the same, it was acceptable. If you’re a pickle juice slurper, Istanbul is the city for you.

Turkish Pickles Shop

The pickle displays are just too tempting for pickle lovers

In last month’s Istanbul itinerary post, we said we intended to explore the Cihangir and Çukurcuma areas of Beyoğlu. Despite the bad weather, that intention became an accomplishment, and while we were enjoying the woodwork and craft shops of Çukurcuma, the pickle shop above sticks in our memory.

How can it not? So tempting when you see beautifully stacked jars full of pickles arranged in pristine fashion. We gazed, we hovered and we nearly went in to make a purchase.

…But we wanted to go back to our favourite Beyoğlu turşucu, Petek Turşuları (Petek Pickles). We’d talked about it so much throughout the year that it felt like we were cheating our dream if we didn’t head back there.

Jars Of Turkish Pickles

Souvenirs from Istanbul – it has to be Turkish pickles

These guys know how to do a good display to tempt pickle lovers anywhere (click on the Petek link above to see more). As soon as the latch from the door is released, your nostrils are filled with the aroma of pickling vinegar as the staff stir fruit and vegetables in cauldrons of this wondrous preservative.

Photographed above is our Istanbul souvenir that we brought back to Fethiye with us. From Petek Turşuları, we bought a jar of sweet pickled red chillies and, remember the chilli paste from the fantastic köfte lunch we had at Edirnekapı? Well, this stuff is exactly the same but not quite as blended. Crushed, super-fiery red chillies in (we think) oil and a splash of vinegar. The contents of both jars are now severely depleted.

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  1. I love the pickles too. But just a question, time we were Istanbul in Summer, we bought an peeled apple from a street vendor, sprinkled with what we assumed was sugar, but turned out to be salt! Yuk!Is this usual, or did he make a mistake!

  2. A shop full of pickles….how fabulous. I must have walked past the pickle vendor in Eminonu a few times on the way to ferries and totally missed him. Next time!

  3. @ Anonymous: Turks eat a lot of unripe fruit and they sprinkle salt on it to take away some of the sour taste. Not too sure what the fruit was that you had but eric (unripe plums) are really popular. Small green fruit. They’re really nice once you get used to the taste.

    @ jenny: The pickle vendor was on the opposite side to the main ferry areas. They were REALLY good pickles. 🙂

  4. oh my goodness- the pickle display in the shop window looks amazing!! I love vinegar but it doesn’t love me ;( but I would be tempted seeing these delicious pickle jars.

    as far as the comment abt salt on fruit- strange, in Singapore and Malaysia we do the same!!

  5. What IS it about Poms and pickles?

    But … pickles can be quite tasty. Here in Chiang Mai there’s a chicken curry dish, served with noodles, fried noodles, bean sprouts and pickled bok choi (or some other leafy Asian vegetable). It’s nothing to write home about without the pickles. With the pickles, it’s fabulous. Although still not Turkish.

  6. Wow – I never thought of Istanbul with so many pickles!

  7. @ Anjuli: We love it too and I’m so glad it doesn’t affect me because it’s addictive! 🙂 I think a few countries enjoy the sour fruit but thought it was more of a middle east thing. Interesting.

    @ Barbara: Yep, we love our pickles and thankfully for us, I think Turks love them even more! 🙂 That dish you mentioned sounds lovely.

    @ Belinda: It’s a feast of pickles is Istanbul. 😉

  8. Liam loves to make pickles but hates to eat them. What’s that about? I’ve no idea either!

  9. I’ve never been aware of the special delight of Turkish pickles, but I’m convinced now. Do you have more recipes coming, please?

  10. @ Jack Scott: Yeah, absolutely no idea what that’s about! 🙂 I love to make them and then I write it on the calendar so that I know when I can start eating them.

    @ Italian Notes: Yes, the Turks love their pickles. Hopefully, we’ll be doing some more Turkish pickles recipes over winter sometime.

  11. I mostly think of Hungary in connection with pickles… but then Hungary and Turkey aren’t that far apart. Up here in Scandinavia, we’ve traditionally used pickles with foie gras sandwiches, and not much more. But with lots of little Turkish shops around, we’re getting a bit more international in that department as well…

  12. @ Sophie: I think the similarities there with Hungary and Turkey must come from Ottoman times. Hope you discover the joy of pickles with all of your little Turkish shops that are opening. 🙂

  13. DARN IT!!! I was *SO* tempted by the pickles but i couldn’t carry everything AND eat the pickles at the same time!!! BOOO!!! Well, now I’ve got another reason to go back! 🙂

    We weren’t in Istanbul at the same time were we?? Because if I was there and you were there and we didn’t meet up, I’d be so disappointed! 🙂

  14. @ Jen: I’ve got to say, the pickles we ate on the street got to be a bit messy. Walking, eating, juice-dripping and carrying stuff isn’t easy. 🙂

    I’ve got a feeling we might have been there at the same time you know. Mid- October? I was thinking that when I was reading your posts. Yes, a definite excuse for you to return to Istanbul then. 🙂

  15. So far we have been lazy and not made pickles. Your chillies look wonderful.

  16. @ omentide: Wish they were our chillies. We bought those in Istanbul. 🙂 Will make some of our own over winter, definitely.

  17. Julia, you make me crave for turşu! There is a very small shop here and they make perfect pickles. I always drink a cup of turşu suyu there whenever I go to the city center. Your souvenirs look great!I bet you will finish them soon!

  18. @ Zerrin: Everyone should crave turşu. 🙂 Glad you’ve got a perfect pickle shop. It felt like a guilty pleasure, walking around Istanbul enjoying turşu suyu.

  19. Derya Moreno says

    Tursu suyu and fish bread…no better combo of food. Be careful with the tursu suyu thought because it can give you the runs. I guess it’s sort of natural cleansing lol

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