Şalgam Suyu

Many  drink sodas to beat down the thirst. I prefer something salty rather than sweet. Usually I end up drinking a glass of herb ayran or şalgam suyu. Şalgam suyu is a local drink around Çukurova meaning, Adana, Mersin and even Hatay. Locals prepare şalgam suyu either for their consumption or for a meal ticket to sell at Çarşı, on a wheeled cart. It is one home’s pride, like a lot of things in East, the taste of şalgam suyu is manly important then politics and many things…

Şalgam suyu when you translate is turnip juice, hence it ‘s main ingredient is red carrots ,then bulgur-cracked wheat-, yeast, salt and water, so we have to call it fermented red carrot juice. First you ferment the pounded wheat for a week, wait for it to acidify. Then it is put in the special wood barrels and add the cooked red carrots on them, wait for another week to ripen, salt added, it is cooled down then filtered and poured into bottles. There is spicy and non spicy kind of şalgam suyu available.

Like kebap conquered all the cities in  Turkey,with the migrating people from East, so did şalgam suyu. It is available all year around in supermarkets, widely from a lot of brands. Though I suggest you choose the organic brands, not for its mere good but also the it is the most closest one to the original homemade ones like I had around Çukurova, Adana, Hatay and Mersin…

When you come close to a cart around these places, they pour it with a special ladle, serving it with a slice of red carrot, the one which şalgam suyu is made, called tane by the locals, then you are welcomed to sit on the small tabure, crunch the carrot stick, have a  sip of the ruby liquid, chit chat with the vendor, this case Ayşe Abla, another time it was Mahmut…

The taste is salty, sour, a little like carrot pickle, like pickle juice yet piquant if spicy, the color should be blurry due to the fermentation, to be shaken a bit before pouring yourself one cold glass full. At kebapçı it is enjoyed mostly, because it settles the stomach by taking the edge of the beautiful fatty meats you gobbled. Sometimes I like to drink it with  rakı, but not pouring it in rakı, just instead of water, served with rakı. But most of all I think I enjoy it very cold in a big glass, on a sizzling afternoon instead of wolfing the ice cream left form that nite…