Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sweet 'n Spicy Carrot Pickles

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Sweet 'n spicy carrot pickles
We usually get 2 pounds of organic carrots a week as part of our weekly delivery.  I find going through these is quite easy since I cook a lot with carrots as part of my starter base for many dishes.  I also have one child that really only likes raw vegetables, so carrots are a staple in her diet and appear on the dinner table several times a week.  This all works out great, until you get hit by one of the biggest storms in decades and lose power for 4 days, I take an unexpected week long trip out of state, and a general shift in the chief cook moves from Mom to ..... Dad.

Don't get me wrong.  Peter is a fantastic Dad and a really good cook.  But.  He has also been solo-parenting a great deal these past few weeks while I have been dealing with out of state family matters.  He is just happy to get -any- homemade dinner on the table at this point.  So when I finally re-enter MY kitchen and take a quick inventory, I find I have 6 pounds of carrots on hand.  Time for some pickles!

Dealing with excess produce is one of the many reasons I love doing small batch canning.  I can use a smaller canning pot, do only a single batch, it takes perhaps an hour of my time, and in the end I have found a way to put to good use that stuff that would have normally ended up in the compost.  Plus these carrot pickles are spicy and slightly sweet and really really good!

Sweet 'N Spicy Carrot Pickles

Michelle K.
Add your pickled carrots to hum-drum packed lunches, sandwiches (bánh mì), salads, as a garnish for soups or curries and a side dish for any brunch or dinner. These are a combination of slightly sweet and very spicy flavor. A mandolin is invaluable in prepping the carrots. My mandolin has 2 size settings available, I use the smaller one to get carrot strings instead of wedges.


  • 2 lbs carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 star anise
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger (freshly grated!)


  1. Prepare your pint jars (I prefer wide mouth for making pickles, they pack more easily), lids, rings and canner. If you do not know how to do these things, always use a reliable and official source to guide you through this process. The National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving are good places to start.
  2. In a non-reactive pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, star anise, fresh ground ginger and chili flakes. Bring to a boil and stir once in a while to completely dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add the carrots to the hot pickling liquid and stir gently. Bring the pot back up to a boil, about 2 - 3 minutes tops. Since the carrots are so thin this does not take long at all.
  4. Carefully fish out the 3 star anise and add one to the bottom of each hot jar.
  5. Using a slotted spoon and a wide mouth funnel, fill your hot jar with the carrots, leaving 1/2" headspace. Pack them in pretty firmly using the handle of a wooden spoon to help. Don't worry too much about the carrot strings breaking - although they still have some crunch to them, they are now far more pliable and tend to bend enough to fit into jars easily.
  6. Ladle hot pickling liquid over the carrots, covering them completely. Remove any bubbles in the jar (I find a chopstick works best for this) and adjust the headspace as needed to maintain your 1/2".
  7. Clean the rim of the jar very thoroughly, apply your hot lid, and then the ring. You want to tighten your ring just until it is "finger tip tight", not too tight, but not loose either.
  8. Process your jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (10 minutes is measured after the water returns to a full boil). Adjust your processing time as necessary depending on your elevation. Again, consult a very reliable source for instructions on how to do this.
  9. Remove your jars from the water bath to a cloth covered counter. Let them cool completely for 12-24 hours before testing the seals. Remove the outer ring and pick up the jar carefully by the lid to make sure the seal is a good one. If you do have a jar that did not seal, just put it in the refrigerator and eat the carrots, they will keep for a couple of months.
  10. Store your jars in a cool dark place.
Yield: 3 pint jars

Prep Time: 00:20
Cook time: 00:40


based on one tablespoon serving
Calories: 11
Total carbs: 3