After my experiments this fall, my only real question is why I didn't try pickling sooner.
After the success of my refrigerator dills, I decided to branch out. Clearly, one of the key items on the thanksgiving (or maybe pre-thanksgiving) table is always the dish of pickles and olives. So I not only made another batch of dills, but also decided to try out these carrot pickles.
Let's just say that the garden next year will definitely contain more pickle components. Hey, it's winter (or "winter"--but it's foggy today in the south bay, and though that is normal for SF, it is highly abnormal in the valley, and definitely sends a clear message that it's going to be 50F for a while). Winter is the traditional time to get out the graph paper and the seed catalogs to plot out exactly what you want to grow next year. In short, jalapeños and carrots are on the list, and I wouldn't put it past me to plant a cascade of beets for good measure.
After acquiring a bunch of farmer's market purple carrots, half a red onion, and a jalapeño, I went to work.
The pickle-making process is super simple. I scrubbed the carrots, peeled the onion, and sliced them and the jalapeño into pieces. I made the brine by boiling a cup of water and two cups of vinegar with a quarter cup of canola oil, and seasoned the business with cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. When the salt was dissolved, I added the chopped veg and cooked everything together for a little over five minutes. Then I decanted everything into a clean quart jar that I'd preheated with hot tap water.
Since I'd made my pickles with the lid on the pan, eliminating most of the evaporation, I ended up with a lot of extra brine. Okay then! I grabbed another couple carrots, scrubbed them, cut them into sticks, put them in another preheated jar, and poured on the additional brine. This way we had both cooked and raw (or only brine-warmed) carrot pickles to try.
At this point I lidded my jars, let them cool, and stuck them in the fridge. By thanksgiving, three days later, they'd matured into the most perfect instance of spicy pickle I could possibly imagine. Even though we also had a massive tableful of additional dinner, we ate about 1/3 of the quart jar in one go.
A couple things to think about:
- Yes, that is a layer of oil at the top of the jar. I think this is fine; just shake the jar to distribute the oil before opening.
- My brine turned bright pink. This is pretty clearly because I used purple carrots. Yay pink pickles!
- Since these pickles are made with onion and jalapeño, they get hotter over time. Be careful!
- Since these pickles are made with onion and jalapeño, you don't just get pickled carrot--you also get pickled onion and jalapeño.
In fact, after we roasted our post-thanksgiving chicken (what? you don't roast a post-thanksgiving chicken??), and I was looking for something delicious to put on my resulting sandwiches, guess what I found? That's right: my lovely jars of pickles. I didn't use the pickled carrots on the sandwich, though. Instead, I fished out a few of the jalapeño rings and red onions.
On an english muffin with dijon mustard and freshly roasted chicken, they were perhaps the best choice ever.