Any time is a good time to pickle carrots and young fresh baby carrots add an interesting twist to this recipe, but my premiere experience pickling carrots was born of necessity.
On what was arguably one of the coldest nights of the year, my refrigerator decided to stop working. I guess that was good in a way, because the food that hadn’t already defrosted went out in coolers on the porch. Unfortunately, the repairman said that it could be several weeks until he got the part he needed. After clearing out the refrigerator shelves and carefully stowing the coolers on the back porch, I was left with some eggs and a handful of carrots.
They both got pickled. Eggs I have done - regularly (check out my recipe), but pickling carrots was a new idea to me. I did not have enough carrots to justify pulling out the pressure canner and I wasn't in the mood for a Morrocan Salad.
A search through the kitchen cabinets, a look through my pickling and preserving cookbooks, and I realized I had everything I needed for a variation of pickled carrots. Pickled carrots are served at good Mexican restaurants, traditionally placed on the table with the chips and salsa when you sit down. Celery and jalepenos are the usual canning partners for this recipe, but not completely necessary. My family likes things spicy and since I did not have the traditional jalapeno peppers, I replaced them with some dried red chilies. I also omitted the celery as I had none, and so was born my 'Americanized' version of Mexican Pickled Carrots.
They are tasty as a side dish, add an interesting twist to a Five Bean Salad (and I don't always use the same five beans - makes it so much more interesting), or an Antipasto Salad. I have been contemplating chopping them up and adding them to a Tuna Salad or maybe a Banh Mi type sandwich. Oh my, the possibilities are endless!
MEXICAN-STYLE PICKLED CARROTS
6 to 10 Carrots, skin removed, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 dried Chili Peppers, stem removed, sliced 1/2 long (or 1 small fresh Jalepeno sliced)
1 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
1 tsp Salt (scant)
1 cup White Vinegar
1/2 cup of Water
4 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Quart Canning Jar
Begin by gathering and preparing all of your ingredients as this canning process moves fairly quickly. Do not forget to wear some kind of rubber gloves while cutting up the chilies.
Put the oil in a heavy bottomed pot with the bay leaves and cook over medium heat for about a minute to infuse the oil with bay flavor – do not burn, they should be fragrant and maybe slightly toasty.
Add the pepper, stir for 30 - 45 seconds.
Add carrots, salt, and water (enough to cover) and bring to a boil. Simmer rapidly until not quite tender (about 5 minutes).
Add peppercorns, vinegar and more water if needed to cover. Stir to mix, return to a boil. Immediately remove from heat.
Carefully transfer carrots and spices (as many peppercorns as you can) while hot into sterilized jar. Add liquid to 1/4 inch from lip, don't worry if there is a little left over.
Cap. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.
Remove jar, let cool, overnight making sure seal is completed.
Store in pantry. When serving remove the bay leaves.