Winter preparations mostly mean food storage with different traditional methods in Türkiye. Let’s learn what methods Turks use for long-lasting foods that are very healthy and nutritious in the cold weather
In times gone by, when all the possibilities that we have today – fabricated production and advanced storage conditions – were not yet available, there were various other ways to preserve food. Today, production and preservation are still carried out using some old techniques.
There is an unavoidable waste of food in the world, and these old methods, in fact, play a role in reducing waste significantly.
We can extend the life of the product that could not be consumed with different storage methods preventing it from deteriorating, and we can carry the materials that are abundant in season to the next.
Methods such as salting, smoking, drying or canning, which were popular when packaging and freezers were not available, are still used today. These and similar methods aim to cut the contact of food with oxygen and to stop bacterial production.
In smoking, a crust is formed on the outer surface of the food, ensuring that the inner surface is not spoiled, while in canning, it is aimed to cut off the air contact with the food in water.
In the late summer months in Türkiye, such preparations are made in every town, village and metropolis, and even in almost every house.
Vegetables and fruits strung on ropes to be dried can catch your eye on balconies and gardens at any time. Since drying is difficult in areas with high humidity, it can also be done using an oven or household type machines.
Among the most preferred vegetables for drying are eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, and fruits such as apricots, figs and plums.
In the geography of Türkiye, where production and crops are quite abundant, traditional storage methods are more common, especially in rural areas. There is an ever-evolving culture in these lands to combine new advanced techniques with archaic knowledge learned from older generations.
There is a Turkish idiom called “imece usulü,” which can be translated as “collective work.” This means that a community in a village, town or any region is doing any type of work with a large group of volunteers.
During the summer months, food is stocked with “collective work” through gathering of friends, relatives and neighbors.
These collaborative works, which take some time in long days in the summer months, mean saving both time and money in the short and busy days of winter. In addition, you can consume fresh vegetables and fruits that are out of season during the winter months.
Let’s come to some examples of winter preparations and methods popular in Türkiye.
Tarhana is a kind of soup. First, a dough mixture is prepared with vegetables, fresh greens, garlic, onions, flour, yogurt and water, and this mixture is covered. The dough is not touched until its third day, then it is kneaded every day for 7 days without adding flour and covered.
At the end of 10 days, pieces of this dough are cut off and dried in the sun or in the oven.
Finally, the dried dough pieces are crushed into powder, sieved and stored in a cool place.
This powder can be considered the ancestor of instant and quick soups.
It is a vitamin-filled soup to be consumed in the winter months due to the vegetables that are put in it.
Pickles are a fermented food prepared with vinegar or lemon. It is a delicious appetizer alternative that can be consumed with almost every meal for those who like salty, sour and sometimes bitter.
Although it is common to prepare pickles from vegetables such as pepper, cucumber, cabbage and plant roots, it is possible to pickle almost all vegetables.
All you need to prepare pickles is a mixture of ingredients such as lemon or vinegar, garlic, drinking water, rock salt, some seeds or dried legumes and any vegetables you like.
The prepared mixture is poured over the vegetables that are tightly packed in jars or bottles and kept in a place out of the sun for 10-15 days.
It is consumed almost in every season in Türkiye, and pickle juice is also a very popular and very healthy beverage.
Erişte is dried small rectangular pieces of dough cooked like pasta.
It is a long-lasting food obtained by cutting the dough prepared by adding wheat flour, water, salt and egg in the traditional method into strips and drying it in the sun.
Its shape sometimes gets smaller and it is cut into triangle and square shapes, which is called “çorbalık” and used in soups.
In order to increase the vitamin value of erişte, colorful vegetables such as spinach, beet, tomato or carrot are sometimes added to the dough. The colorful eriştes are definitely more appetizing!
Any vegetable, fruit or even meat you can think of can be used in the process of drying.
Tomatoes, eggplant, figs, apricots, okra, beans, sour cherries, mulberries, mint and mushrooms are among the most dried ones.
Although drying in direct sunlight is common today, the result of drying will not be as desired in areas with high humidity; so machines and ovens may be preferred.
If cans are not closed correctly, their contact with air is not lost and cans can spoil quickly. When done with the right methods, foods can stay intact for years.
Many raw or cooked foods can be canned.
Concentrate storage of fruits after they are boiled produces natural beverage alternatives.
You can prepare all kinds of canned food that you can find on market shelves and even more at home today.
Roasted eggplant, boiled beans or fresh fruit slices are just a few of them.
In recent years, everyone who has started to become conscious of correct and smart shopping understands the importance of natural products, can food they make themselves or keep the foods in the freezer.
All of these are also great alternatives for when we are deprived of the wonderful energy of the sun during the winter months.