today we had a pile of riverdog farm's carrots (the stuff dreams are made of) laying around, too small to do much of anything with, so i decided to pickle them escabeche style.
in canning, much like cooking, every single batch is different. and a jar you open after a month might taste totally different than a jar you open after three months. it's all a learning process for me. june taylor taught me to keep a notebook where i write down everything i do for each batch, and how the pickle/marmalade/canned good tastes after different periods of time.
just as with everything else in cooking, experience is the best teacher in canning--it's why grandmas are the best.
the photo above is of one of last year's batches--since i was using baby carrots today, i just topped them, washed them and left them whole.
Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños
makes 3 1-quart jars
4 bunches baby carrots
9 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons epazote
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons cumin seed
8-10 jalapeño peppers
4 cups white wine or cider vinegar*
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 cup kosher salt**
Fill a stock pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil.
Wash your three jars, ring tops and lids and lay them all on a clean towel. Place 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon epazote, 1 teaspoon coriander and 1 tablespoon of cumin in each jar.
Trim the greens from the carrots, leaving about 1/4-inch at the top. Remove the hair from the tip. Rinse off the carrots to ensure that they are free of any dirt or debris. If any of the carrots are wider than your index finger, then slice them in half lengthwise.
Trim the top of the stem off of each jalapeño. Slice each pepper into 3 or 4 pieces on the bias.
Place a couple of pieces of jalapeño in each jar, and then pack the carrots in tip down, as tightly as possible. If there is room left at the top of the jar, pack in more pepper pieces.
In a medium-sized pot, make the brine: combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and remaining spices and bring to a boil. At this point, I usually simmer a sample carrot in the brine to test it out. Let it cook for a few minutes and then judge the carrot for salt and acid levels, both of which should be pretty high.
When you are satisfied with the brine, pour it into the jars, knocking out any air bubbles. Leave about 1/2-inch of room at the top, making sure that all of the peppers and carrots are fully covered with brine. Seal the jar with the ring top and the lid as tightly as possible, then loosen it by 1/4 turn.
Process the jars according to your preferred method and label. Enjoy after 1 week and up to 6 months.
*It's really difficult to write a recipe using so much vinegar and then put it out there to the world without a word of caution. Basically, vinegars are all really different, both in flavor and acidity. So this is only a guideline. I usually use a pretty strong wine vinegar when I pickle, and that's what I used to write this recipe. You need to use your common sense and your sense of taste when making this brine. In general, I have found that pickles I plan to put up need a lot more acid than fresh pickles that get consumed within a few days. This brine should make you pucker, but not want to die. You'll have to experiment, but more importantly, you'll have to taste!!!
**Please note that I wrote this recipe using kosher salt. If you are not using kosher salt, then reduce the amount of salt by 2/3. Like I said with the vinegar, though, every batch is different. And you should taste the brine a bazillion times to make sure it's right. It should be fairly salty, but nowhere near the level of pasta water.