As I mentioned recently, Matt’s mom was in town a few weeks ago and we spent most of our time hiding from the November snowstorm by embarking on some cooking projects. One of the easiest was this spicy carrot pickles recipe from The Complete Book of Pickling. I would take the word “spicy” with a big, coarse grain of salt. They are not at all spicy, using only a 1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes for 5 pounds of carrots. I halved the recipe and kept the pepper flakes at the same amount and it is still not very spicy. Having said that, I ADORE this recipe and will definitely be making it again. I could eat a whole jar of these in an afternoon. They make a great snack, or as an element within a ploughman’s lunch or charcuterie board. They also add a nice note of acidic brightness as a side to a slow cooked stew or braised meat. We have a couple of jars left and I’ll be sad when they are all gone. SPICY CARROT PICKLES
Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling
Makes about 7 pint jars.
2.5 lbs carrots
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or pickling/canning salt, if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2.5 cups cider vinegar (I substituted 1/2 cup white vinegar because I was running low on cider vinegar)
2 1/4 cups water
6 garlic cloves, halved
Prepare canner, cars, and lids (please consult a reputable source as your local extension service or the Ball Book of Preserving. Cut carrots crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1/4-inch slices. Cut any slices that are larger than a quarter into half-moons. You should have about 6 cups. Set aside. In a large pot, combine bay leaves, sugar, mustard seeds, salt, hot pepper flakes, vinegar, and water. As you can see from the above photo, I mistakenly threw all the ingredients on top of the carrots. It still turned out fine and crunchy. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high. Add carrots and return to a simmer. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaves.
Place 1 piece of garlic in each hot jar. Using a slotted spoon, pack carrots into jars, leaving room for liquid and leaving 1 inch headspace at top of the jar. Add another piece of garlic. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running the handle of a wooden spoon through the jar. Adjust headspace as necessary by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip-tight. Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 10 minutes (begin counting once the water has reached a boil). Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours. Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.