What Is ‘Şalgam Suyu’?
‘Şalgam’ (SHAAL’- gahm) juice is a popular vegetable-based beverage from Turkey’s southeastern region around the cities of Mersin and Adana and is a great example of Turkish regional cuisine. In Turkish, the word ‘şalgam’ means turnip, but this traditional drink is actually made from purple carrots, bulgur wheat, salt, and yeast.
‘Şalgam’ juice is traditionally served ice cold in large glasses with long slices of pickled carrots, called ‘tane.’ Some like a spoon of hot red pepper relish stirred in just before serving for extra heat. Whether you like it spicy or mild, ‘şalgam’ is one of the most popular drinks to accompany spicy ‘Adana’ kebab.
‘Şalgam’ is also sometimes served alongside ‘rakı,’ the famous Turkish anise beverage dubbed ‘lion’s milk.’ It makes a great chaser.
The Benefits of ‘Şalgam’
It’s believed that ‘şalgam’ juice has many health benefits. It’s rich in vitamins A,B and C and antioxidants and is said to be good for the heart, circulation and vision. Turkish people drink ‘şalgam’ often as it’s believed to ease digestion, increase appetite and libido and reducing swelling.
The Spread of ‘Şalgam’
With all its health benefits, plus its savory but refreshing taste, ‘şalgam’ is popular all across Turkey. What began as a regional favorite soon spread across the country as a natural partner with the kebabs from this region. Today, you can order ‘şalgam’ juice along with your kebabs at any Turkish restaurant. It’s also available in supermarkets in the soft drink section.
Traditional ‘şalgam’ can be time-consuming to prepare at home, so many home cooks go for an easier recipe with little or no fermentation time.
To make this recipe you'll need a large piece of cheesecloth and a 5-gallon canning jar with lid.
- 1 large şalgam turnip
- 1 large beet
- 2 pounds carrots
- Juice of 2 lemons (or 1 1/2 tsp. crystal citric acid)
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 1/2 loaf of bread (Italian)
- 5 cups purified water
Wearing rubber gloves, peel the turnip and beet and slice them. Peel the carrots and divide them into fours.
Wrap the ½ loaf of bread in the cheesecloth and tie off the end to make a ‘hobo sack.’ Put the sack inside the glass jar. Add the sliced vegetables and all the other ingredients except the salt.
In a separate container, mix the salt with about 3 cups of purified water to dissolve it, then pour it into the jar.
Add more water in needed to fill the jar to the top with liquid. Close the lid tightly.
Set the jar aside in a cool place to ferment for 15 days. Don’t attempt to open the jar before 15 days pass.
After 15 days, open the jar and remove the cheesecloth and bread. The bread has acted as the fermenting agent. Once you chill it, your ‘şalgam’ juice is ready to drink. You can serve the now pickled vegetables alongside to munch on.