Last Thanksgiving, I went up to Portland to enjoy the holiday with a group of old friends. By Saturday, we were all stuffed and vaguely tired of food – but our friend Eric managed to revive our appetites with a creative light meal consisting entirely of homemade pickles and two kinds of fried carbs (polenta and a salty fried batter called zeppole). Also on the pickle plates were preserved lemons and several sorts of brined peppers. It was a great combination: each bite of one thing made you hungry for a bite of something else.
Eric has been kind enough to share the turnip recipe with me; I’ve modified it very slightly based on my own tastes. Note that by “small” turnips I mean only those with a diameter of less than 1.5" (and ideally smaller, ~1"); above that size they just don’t taste right. Generally you can only get these at farmer’s markets, even during the winter season.
Equipment-wise, I just use old wide-necked spaghetti sauce jars (24 oz.) that have been through the dishwasher. Here I assume that you will use three such jars (which will be filled not all the way to the top, but that is OK – tight packing can bruise the turnips and make mushy pickles).
The final product is a beautiful deep red, has a strong but not overpowering radish-like heat, and (if you used good baby turnips) both sweet and mineral flavors. These definitely aren’t for everyone but they are a great way to get introduced to this underrated vegetable.
(P.S.: There are pickled turnips all over the Middle East; in Persia/Iran they are called "torshi left".)