What's Up Doc? crunch, crunch, crunch
The other day we pulled carrots from the small carrot patch in the garden. We made a pretty decent haul from the smallish space (maybe 4'x5') with a bulging armload of Short&Sweet and Scarlet Nantez. I'm getting ready to replant the bed with another round of carrots and radishes as a late summer to fall crop.
Since we'll be eating this bunch of carrots over the next two or three weeks I cleaned them fairly well before brief storage, giving the buggy ones to Jesse's rabbit, Eric. If we were planning to store them over winter I wouldn't clean them nearly as thoroughly, but would just pack in sand or wood shavings as is.
I decided to pickle a few jars of the smaller ones. I also saved all of the teeny-tiny carrots, which I'll use for some fun artsy-fartsy plating and photos. Following is the pickle recipe. I preserved these with the boiling water immersion method for long term storage in the cupboard, but you could also do them as refrigerator pickles by just avoiding the immersion step, which would also leave the carrots firmer than the hot bath method, as the boiling water cooks and softens them. I'll likely do a few additional jars of refrigerator pickled carrots so that we have some with crunch. I did two jars with both carrots and beets, the red ones in the photo.
- carrots, 2-3 lbs, washed thoroughly. You can julienne these or slice them any way you feel like. I left them whole so that they wouldn't turn to mush in the hot water bath, which isn't a problem if you omit the bath and just make them as refrigerator pickles, and I left a half-inch of the green tops on as well, just because it looks cool.
- 3 cups vinegar
- 3½ cups water
- 1-1½ cups sugar
- 2 tbl salt
- 1½-2 tbl pickling spice
- bay leaves, 1 for each jar
- ½ tbl peppercorns
- garlic cloves, 1 for each jar
- onion, roughly chopped into large pieces
- dried thai peppers, 1 for each jar
- sterilized canning jars and lids
1) In a heated skillet fry the garlic and onion for just a few minutes in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, mainly to flavor the pan. Add the carrots, in batches, and saute for a few minutes, but not enough to soften them.
2) Place a clove of the sauteed garlic in each jar, and pack with the carrots. Divvy up the onion between the jars too. Add one small dried Thai pepper to each jar.
3) Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, spices, and bay leaves, to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Take the bay leaves and add one to each jar of carrots.
4) Pour the hot pickling mixture into the jars. Make sure the rims are clean and seal with lids and bands. Immerse in a boiling water bath as you would when preserving with this method. 10-12 minutes is about right. Or skip the immersion method and place the jars in the fridge.
I like to mix pickled vegetables on the plate with fresh and cooked veg, giving a nice mix of textures, colors and flavors within the context of a single vegetable. So, with these pickled carrots, I might do something like adding them to a mix of sauteed carrots and slawed carrots, essentially offering three different versions of the carrot in one serving, as a side or an entree unto itself.