Pickled Carrots

We have an abundance of carrots right now, so I decided to pickle a few of them. I'm 47 years old, and I just tasted my first pickled carrots ever, on Mother's Day at Full Belly Farm. They were a revelation - crisp and with that real pickle taste, but beautifully orange and with a sweetness that only comes from carrot.

I did a lot of searching for recipes; it seems that pickled carrots are something people are passionate about, and there are many personal tastes. I need to go on a hunt for dill seed (something we had trouble finding last year), but meanwhile I have coriander seed that Ruby from the Institute of Urban Homesteading gave me from her garden, so I decided to use that. I have garlic that we've grown ourselves, and of course I have peppercorns, sea salt (which stands in for pickling salt in a pinch), and cider vinegar on hand. (You need to use a vinegar that has 5% acidity; white vinegar is often called for in these recipes, but I prefer the flavor of cider vinegar and always have some here for broth and making Thieves Vinegar.)

First up, picking a big bunch of carrots. I finally got wise to planting carrots far enough apart. I'm not a huge fan of thinning, so instead I just planted the seeds about 1-2 inches apart. It worked. We have decent-sized carrots this year, since they weren't crowded, and I didn't have to thin, which I find tedious and wasteful.

The chickens get the carrot-tops and any carrots that are too small for this project. They LOVE carrot tops.

The carrots get washed and sliced to the size of the jar, then blanched for 90 seconds in boiling water.
Meanwhile I boiled the jars and warmed the lids, and then put a clove of garlic at the bottom of each jar, plus peppercorns and coriander seeds. After the carrots are blanched, they are added to the jars.

The jars are then filled with a boiling mixture of vinegar, water, and salt. I boiled the full jars for 10 minutes in a water bath. At the moment I'm using our pasta pot with the pasta draining insert, so the jars don't wobble around on the bottom of the pot and break. Mom bought us a canning rack, and I thought it would fit in our La Crueset pot and that could be used for smaller jars, but it doesn't fit. So we do need to buy a whole new canning rig.

Anyhow, I made do, and the carrots turned out great. They'll keep for a year, but they'll be ready to eat in a couple of days.

And last night, we had our first pesto of the season! The basil is very young, but there was enough of it, and I added some spinach for backbone. I used garlic from our garden, and walnuts instead of pine nuts. It was delicious. Nothing says 'summer' like pesto!