It’s been a while since we had Tourshee, but I’ve been craving it lately. Last time I made it I burned my hands so severely while pouring the boiling brine over the vegetables that I had to go to the nearest urgent care center and they slathered the second degree burns with cream and wrapped my hands in gauze. What happened was that the brine sloshed over one hand and then my reaction caused it to splash back over the other hand. Then I dropped the pot. I was lucky it didn’t splash back into my face, really.
Next day when I went to my own doctor, he declared all the gauze wrappings to be overkill and introduced me to Aquaphor ointment which quickly became a staple in the household first aid kit. I was ready to get back on the pickle horse right away, but the family was too traumatized and begged me not to make Tourshee anymore and I haven’t until now.
But enough about that, let’s talk about the actual Tourshee, a life-saving Armenian staple. Basically Tourshee is any pickle, but the way we make it, it’s a brined or marinated pickle. It could be a fermented one, or a traditionally canned one, depending on your choice of recipe.
I say Tourshee is life-saving because I remember when there was a terrible earthquake in Armenia I read about a man who was dug out of the rubble that had been his home and rescued 3 or 4 weeks after the event when the hope of finding survivors was virtually gone. He explained that he had been making pickles and carrying them down to his basement when the earthquake struck. He survived all that time by eating the pickles and as I recall, was in pretty good shape when they found him.
I’ve been craving them because they are a perfect low carb food as long as you don’t eat the onions or carrots and I’m bored with my usual fare. Trust me, there is nothing boring about Tourshee! Oh my, the vinegar burn and the heady garlic and onion fumes will knock your socks off. Nothing subtle here. The only other Armenian food I’ve tried that comes close in assertiveness is Basturma, a preserved meat that shares a common linguistic heritage with Pastrami, but let’s just say I’ll never be ordering a Basturma sandwich even though a nice Pastrami on Rye used to be my standard deli order back in the sandwich days.
Recipes abound on the internet for mixed pickles. Nothing too special about this one I got out of an old Sunset book on Canning and Preserving, the vegetables do all the work. So I won’t post the recipe. If you have a hankering for pickles outside of the ordinary, pick the recipe that sounds best to you and get going, just be careful handling that hot brine!