I've had a thing for pickles ever since I can remember; the salty tang of the brine and the crunch of the vegetables gets me every time. My relative success at jam making and a taste of Jill's pickled garlic scapes (recipe here) inspired me to try a little pickling myself. Since I am not a fan of floppy pickles, I decided to leave cucumber pickles for another day when I have more experience and many jars of successfully canned things under my belt. Carrots were a good place to start, they would stand up to the heat of canning without turning to mush.
Robin, a friend with a prolific garden, knocked on the door a few weeks ago. After she had run the dog gauntlet and made her way into the kitchen, she handed me a grocery bag filled with freshly dug carrots. Absolutely perfect timing because it's pretty hard to pickle carrots without a carrot in the house. It seemed like I had carrots coming out of my ears all summer (remember the 4 million pictures I posted of carrots in various poses??) but I hit a drought and Robin came to my rescue.
I'm excited to hone my pickling skills, it was far easier than I expected. I just ran across a recipe for pickled milkweed pods (recipe here) from one of my favorite photography blogs. Evidently, the options for pickling are endless and I can't wait to expand my horizons beyond carrots. Although, these carrots are delicious— a little sweet, tangy and full of warm Indian spices. Green beans are next on the pickling docket, I'll let you know how it goes.
Indian Pickled Carrots (Adapted from Amy Pennington's Urban Pantry)
2 cups apple cider vinegar 3/4 cup raw sugar 3 peels of lemon rind 1 cinnamon stick, broken in 3 or 6 pieces (one for each container) 1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed 1/2 tsp black mustard seed (I used brown mustard seed) 1/2 tsp fennel seed 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp coriander seed (I used fresh 1/4 cup cilantro) 1/4 tsp cumin seed 1 inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tsp salt 1/2 onion, thinly sliced 2 poblano peppers, thinly sliced 1 pound of carrots, washed and cut into uniform match sticks
Prepare jars for canning. In a medium-sized sauce pot, bring the vinegar, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon stick to a gentle boil and hold over low heat.
In another sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until hot. Stir in the fenugreek, mustard seeds, fennel seed, chile flakes and cumin seeds. When the spices begin to pop (about 4 minutes), add the ginger, garlic, salt, poblanos and onion, stirring until soft and slightly caramelized, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
Pack the canning jars with the carrots and cilantro, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Pour equal spoonfuls of the spice mixture into each jar. Pour the hot vinegar over the carrots, submerging them and leaving about a 1/2 inch of head space. The contents should sit right below the bottom ring of the glass jar.
Process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes. Make sure the seals are secure and store in a cool, dark cupboard for at least three weeks before eating.