Since carrots grow well in the Pacific Northwest, they are fairly inexpensive, even the organic ones. I love 'em raw, roasted, sauteed, and creamed in soups, but it seems everyone loves them pickled. These spicy carrot sticks are a snap to make, and since you just store them in the fridge, there's no need to break out the canning kettle. You can make them spicy, or completely omit the chile peppers. They'll still have plenty of zip.
Try them whole with sandwiches, chopped in salads, or minced in salad dressing & chip dips.
Makes 2 pints or one quart
- 2 pounds carrots, washed. If organic, you can leave the peels on.
- 2 peeled garlic cloves, whole but ever-so-slightly smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole (fresh or dried) small chiles (optional)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorn
- 1 cup vinegar (apple cider, white or rice wine)
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
1.) Trim stem end from carrots, then cut into pieces about 1 inch shorter than the height of the jar/s. (Depending on the carrots you use, the carrots for pint jars will probably need to be cut in half and the carrots to be packed into a quart jar can be left whole. Make sense?) Save the measured carrot to use as a guide, and cut the rest of the carrots.
2.) Cut carrots in halves or even quarters length-wise. Carrots can be left whole but they will take longer to absorb brine. If you're handy with a knife, cutting whole carrots into sticks can be tricky, but they will have a dramatic effect when packed into a quart jar!
Note: some people find it's easier to pack the carrots as they work, others like to trim all the carrots first, then pack them. It's up to you.
3.) To pack the jar, hold the jar mostly horizontal with your non-dominant hand. First place a few carrot sticks in the jars, then add one bay leaf, one whole garlic clove and if choosing to make these spicy, one whole chile pepper. I like to put them along the side where I can see them, then fill in the rest of the jar with the carrots. Pack the carrots tightly - if you hold the jar upside-down and the carrot sticks stay put, they're tight enough!
4.) When jar/s is/are packed, add cumin seeds and peppercorns evenly to the jars.
5.) In a large pan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring & cooking just long enough to dissolve sugar and salt, then remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Pour over the carrots, covering the contents of the jar by ½ inch.
6.) Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up one month.
It might take several days for the carrots to begin absorbing the flavors, but I usually can't wait more than a day to start eating them. Whole carrots will take longer to absorb the flavors. If you want them to pickle quicker, cut them into skinny sticks!