It keeps happening. Vegetables (many, many pounds of them) keep taking over every inch of our fridge. The other week I had the opportunity to buy a 10-pound bag of rainbow carrots from Mariquita Farms. How could I not? This phenomenon of buying large quantities of super-exciting vegetable is not new for me. There could be worse; I could be binge spending on camera equipment or all those adorable things I keep seeing on etsy. To speedily make use of all the beautiful produce (and make room for other important fridge staples like beer), I've been canning a lot lately. Have you noticed?
What better to do with a ton of great produce, but to eat it fresh 'til you are sick of it, and then pickle it (pickling does seem to be the current in thing).
The purple, yellow & orange carrots were the perfect size for pickling in quart-sized jars. I had the quart sized jars, all my canning equipment and lots of motivation. The only thing getting in the way of making carrot pickles was time. How to squeeze it all in? Pickling does take a dedicated couple of hours. Having a partner in crime helps -- I snagged Anne at work and we plotted how we could fit it into our ridiculously full schedules. Motivated by the thought of a tasty and beautiful end product, we came into work 2 hours early to share the preparation and canning work in our staff kitchen. Talk about dedication.
Not to side track... but I have to say, this early morning carrot-pickle-making motivation then led me to wake up at 4:50AM to head to the Alameda Flea Market that weekend, too. I was mighty proud of myself... and thrilled with all the unique, bizarre, story-filled ephemera at this once-a-month antique fair. Bill is always the first out of bed, chipper and ready to start the day, and I drag myself out 20 or 30 minutes later... this carrot-pickle-making and flea-market-jaunting was a nice way to change things up. It didn't magically make me a morning person, but I am much more excited about future morning adventures.
Some flea market highlights (and then the recipe, I swear!):
So many fun things! But, back to carrots. If you find small carrots, it's fun to pickle them whole. If not, no problem. They can be cut into sticks, or even coins. The larger the carrot piece, the better it will hold it's texture in the pickling and canning process. The red hue in the liquid of these pickles is from the purple carrots that were mixed into the bunch (the same thing happened with purple cauliflower).
Spicy Pickled Carrots
adapted from Put 'em Up, by Sherri Brooks Vinton
(make 4 quarts, adaptable for smaller batches -- just keep the vinegar, salt, sugar ratio the same)
4 pounds Carrots, peeled, 1 inch shorter than your jars.
8 cups Distilled white vinegar
2 cups Sugar
6 Tablespoons Salt
4 Jalapenos, sliced
8 - 10 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
1. To prepare for canning, sterilize your jars, lids and other equipment. I usually start by washing the jars and placing them in a 250 degree F oven while I move on to preparing the ingredients. You can simmer the jar lids and rings in a small saucepan.
2. Now is also a good time to get your boiling water bath going, if you use this canning method. I like to start the water boiling at the beginning so it has time to get to a boil while I prepare the ingredients.
3. Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium, nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil, stir to make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved.
4. Once your jars are sterilized, it's time to fill them with the uncooked ingredients. Start with the jalapeno, garlic and red pepper flakes -- divide these evening between your jars. Then pack in the carrots. If using whole carrots put them in the jars tops up:
6. Pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, covering the carrots by 1/2 inch. The liquid should cover vegetables by 1/2 inch, with another 1/2 inch between liquid and top of jar.
Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Let the jars sit in the hot water another 5 minutes with the canner lid off. Remove the hot jars carefully, using canning tongs. Check that all the jars sealed (this could take up to 12 hours), then store sealed jars in a cool, dark cabinet for up to a year. Unsealed jars can be put in the fridge to eat within a month or two (although ours rarely last an evening). Wait at least a week before eating to allow the flavors to develop.
These make a great appetizers or 'pub snacks', with beer.