Asian-inspired pickled carrots

Last weekend, I taught a 70+ attendee pickling class inside the heated confines of a greenhouse. A definite first for my pickling prowess! This crazy winter is careening through Texas, so the greenhouse option was a blessing seeing as it was in the 30’s outside that day and our original plan was to have the class in the semi-open barn out at Johnson’s Backyard Garden’s river farm in Cedar Creek.

It was a pickling 101 course covering waterbath canning, fermentation and a hands-on personalized pickle for the refrigerator. The waterbath canning project I taught involved a simple vinegar pickled carrots recipe that I’ve grown fond of over the years. While most Asian pickle recipes will use rice vinegar, you’re not going to be canning those since rice vinegar is only about 4% acidity and to safely waterbath can a low acid vegetable like carrots you need to use a vinegar with 5% or greater acidity.

Here’s a nice base recipe, which you can modify spices and flavors to create the perfect pickle for your palate.

Asian-inspired Pickled Carrots, Canned

yields 6 half-pint jars + maybe a jar for the fridge

1. Place 6 half-pint (8oz) jars in your canner pot, cover to just below the rims with water and bring to a boil.

2. While your water boils, wash and trim 1.5-2lb carrots into preferred pickle sized pieces. Slice them in thin rounds for sandwiches or in sticks to munch right out of the jar or off the pickle platter.

3. Combine in a stainless steel saucepan 4 cups white wine or distilled white vinegar with 1 cup sugar and 3 Tbs salt (fine sea salt, kosher or pickling). Dissolve sugar over low heat and then bring to a boil. Add directly to the pan:

  • 2 Tbs minced ginger
  • 2-4 fresh or dried Thai chiles, chopped roughly

Prepare your lids by placing them in water in a small saucepan. Don’t turn them on to simmer just yet. Keep an eye on your brine, since you don’t want it to boil for an extended period of time. Turn off heat when it reaches a boil.

4. Pull jars from canner pot and place 2 black peppercorns and 1 green onion, slit lengthwise into each jar.

5. Pack your jars firmly with prepared carrots. Now is a good time to turn on the heat and allow your lids to simmer (not boil) in the small saucepan.

6. Pour hot brine and try to incorporate ginger and peppers evenly into the jars over the carrots, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, the distance between the brine and top of the rim. Use a chopstick or a bubbler to remove any air pockets from the jar. Wipe rims with dampened, clean cloth or paper towel. Seal with two-piece lids.

7. Process for 10 min in boiling waterbath.