A Recipe for Easy Pickled Carrots

weck jar full of carrots

Before I went away for recent my trip to New York City, as a gesture of extraordinary kindness to the person who I swapped apartments with, I cleaned out some of the scary things in my fridge. Nevertheless, she managed to find the African peanut butter, but curiously missed the luscious jar of salted butter caramel from Henri Le Roux in Brittany. What’s up with that? I guess that means there’s another apartment swap in my future.

Coming back, the fridge was still spotless, but after a few days, I realized there was too much empty space in there, so now it’s back to being crammed full. Part of the reason is that I came across these gorgeous mixed carrots at the marche d’Aligre. It’s hard to find vegetables like this around here, and if you do, for the price you pay, you may as well stay at a fancy hotel in New York instead and not worry about how clean your refrigerator is for incoming guests.

carrots ginger sugar

At the market here in Paris that day, the vendor has baskets bursting with all sorts of organic produce, all for €2.8 per kilo, for whatever you chose. I filled up my basket and handed it over, and when I got the tab, I realized that perhaps I should’ve exercised a bit more restraint.

apple cider vinegar dirty carrots

I was planning to make salade de carrots rapée with those handsome vegetables, but then a few days later, at another market, I saw this huge bunch of carrots with the leafy greens attached and couldn’t resist those either. So by the time I got home and assessed the situation, I realized I had way too many carrots crammed in the fridge, and decided to pickle some.

carrot sticks

It also gave me an excuse to pull out the brand-new (to me) Weck canning jars I bought at a flea market last summer, which were priced at just 50 centimes a piece. Which offset the price of my organic haul.

Score!

And because it was clean-out-the-pantry time around here, I used some ginger-flavored sugar that Sara sent me, which I never figured out what to do with (or more likely, she told me, but I forgot). But the gentle-spicy zip of ginger was perfect with the carrots.

The recipe on Epicurious that I used wasn’t clear if the carrots should be peeled or not. I checked the comments, but not one of them asked about peeling the carrots.

Obviously their readers aren’t nearly as astute as mine! ; )

So I was going to leave them nature, then at the last minute, scanned the web and found that deb, who also made these a while back, peeled hers. So since I’m scared of her (I bet they have a day-by-day chart on their fridge to see who gets to wear the pants in that household) I decided to give ‘em a good stripping.

No, not the pants. The carrots.

carrots pickled carrots

Easy Pickled Carrots

One pint jar

Adapted from Epicurious

I was once teaching a baking class and they’d purchased fennel seeds in place of the anise that I requested for my recipe. When I said they weren’t the same thing, they told me the clerk at the supermarket said they were. So I walked next door to the supermarket and spoke to the clerk, telling him that I didn’t want my biscotti to taste like Italian sausage.

He insisted I was wrong, that they were interchangeable. So I went back to the butcher department, found an Italian butcher and asked him if they were the same thing. “Absolutely not!” he bellowed, and I smiled a grin of smug satisfaction. Nevertheless, although the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of fennel or dill seeds, I prefer dill (which I couldn’t find in Paris) so I used anise seeds, in some sort of divine retribution.

  • 1 pound (450 g) carrots, peeled
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) water
  • 1 cup (280 ml) cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly-crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel, dill, or anise seeds (See Note)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 bay leaves

1. Cut the carrots into stick approximately the size of your fourth finger. Bring a medium-sized pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. (Use a non-reactive pot.)

2. When the water boils, drop the carrots in and simmer for one minute. Pour into a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly.

3. In the same pot, heat the remaining ingredients. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.

4. Remove from heat and add the carrot sticks. Cool until room temperature, then put into jars and chill.

Carrot sticks should be made at least one day in advance, and will keep for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

Note: The original recipe called for 1 1/2 tablespoons dill or fennel seeds (in later incarnations.) I found the flavor way, way too strong and reduced it. But feel free to use their original quantities.

Related links and recipes

Easy Pickled Red Onions

Zuni Café’s Zucchini Pickles (Wednesday Chef)

Pickled Red Onions (Matt Bites)

Bread and Butter Pickles (Simply Recipes)

Kosher Dill Pickles

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Giardiniera (Smitten Kitchen)

Bread and Butter Pickles (Over a Tuscan Stove)

21 comments

  • I’ve never had a pickled carrot but I’m a big fan of pickled beets. Lots of beets to be found here in Paris but nary one that’s pickled. Do you think this recipe would work well with beets?

  • Anne: Yes, although be prepared for some red juices! Apparently it also works well with green beans, too.

  • Ooh, I have been suffering from a glut of carrots from the weekly vegetable delivery and now I know what to do with them. I don’t suppose it would make parsnips palatable too…?

    Thanks David – inspiring as usual!!

  • Haven’t had pickled carrots any way except for spicy Mexican style. These sound like a nice diversion from more of the same. When it comes to the difference between the anise and fennel seeds — they’re not the same. Across the pond, we often get fennel seeds even though they’re labeled anise…which is strange.

  • I never considered using a multi-color array but my, it looks refreshing and cheery. Great for a cocktail buffet!

  • How on Earth could anyone pass up the jar of Le Roux C.B.S.??? I’m drooling at the thought of it.

    When I was in Paris last May, Denise was out of the jars of Caramel Beurre Sale, so she special ordered one for me to arrive the day before we were to depart. Unfortunately, our schedule was too tight, and we never made it back to her shop, which I deeply lamented. Though, I have no doubts that some lucky person (most likely referred by you, Monsieur David) snatched my jar right up, and delighted in every spoonful.

    On the bright side, she had the bags of Le Roux C.B.S., and some fantastic “religeuse” vanilla caramels that she said were her favorite (have you tried those? I mean, wow!), which I stocked up on. Oh, and those heavenly Bernachon Caramel Beurre Sale Dark Chocolate Bars! Oh my Goddess!!! But, I digress…

    This carrot recipe looks fantastic! What a terrific idea! These would be perfect for a Thanksgiving relish tray!! With beets, too! Mmmm…

    As always, the photographs are simply delectable, David!

    Thanks for being you…

    XOXOXO,

    ~ Paula (from Ambrosia Quest)
    **your newly out-of-the-closet groupie**

  • @ Anne, How strange that you can’t find any pickled beets in Paris! Those are the only ones that I can find in my living in France for over ten years–they come in vacuum-packed plastic packets in the fresh produce department of supermarkets (at least they are in Grenoble). I am craving fresh beets with green tops and seldom do I find them, even at the open-air green markets.

  • I love that the box of cider vinegar says so in Russian. Love love love pickled carrots — or pickled anything for that matter.

  • Those carrots look really good, and some of their local relatives might well end up the same way in my fridge. Regarding some comments, it’s true that you don’t find many pickled vegetables in France. Living in Germany, I believe it’s more a central European thing (pickled beets), or Italian. @Michelle: French vacuum packed beets are usually simply cooked beets, they are not pickled. Those you find in Germany also come from France, and are stored with fresh vegetables, whereas pickled beets, very popular in Germany, are with canned vegetables.

  • My husband makes something similar to this recipe. He uses golden beets sometimes, too. Quite yummy!

  • These look great, I always have a bag of carrots in the fridge.

  • I’ve found vacuum packed cooked beets in the supermarket and huge woody cooked beets in the open air markets. I looked desperately last spring for new baby beets with their greens intact and came up empty.

  • I have made these several times and they are so good. I actually made them first with dill because I didn’t have dill seed and I prefer them that way. I’ll find something else to do with the dill seeds I bought. I think I may have used less salt, too, and still found them to be good. (Like looking at 1 1/2 T. and seeing 1 1/2 t.)

  • eg: Yes, you could use less-salt. I use coarse sea salt, which is less-salty than fine table salt. But still, the amount is variable.

    However, I would like to know if anyone’s made these using the original proportions of 1 1/2 tablespoons of fennel (or dill) seeds? I tried that, and was blown-away by the flavor and intensity of the seeds….

  • David, I recall seeing a shop that made Gravlax, perhaps they have dill seed there? I don’t remember the name of the store, but I do know it is on Rue Francois Miron near the cross street of Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe. It will be on the south side of the street. Hope it helps!

  • @ Veronique and Anne, The vacuum packed beets in Grenoble supermarkets are soured beets (on the package, look for vinaigre in the ingredients). I just slice these soured beets and mix them up with sliced onions, toss them in a light olive oil/vinegar dressing, and presto in a hour or so, what you get is essentially pickled beets. To prevent getting woody beets, look for plastic packs of small, non-woody soured beets. Instead of 3 large beets in the package, there are about 7-8 small, tender beets. Yum. I actually prefer this version of pickled beets than the ones that are truly pickled which are just too puckery for me.

    As for getting the rather rare fresh beets with green tops, I can find them infrequently at the open air market that specialize in produce grown by small stakeholders.

  • I think you read my mind. I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I saw an overpriced jar of them at the market. Thanks!

  • This beet talk is reminding me of one of the best salads I had a couple of years ago at a restaurant in SF. It was cooked beets cut into chunks, some chopped red onions, and the beet greens (also cooked) chopped up and mixed into the salad. The combo of the sweet beets and the slightly bitter green tops was wonderful. I make this all the time now, using a simple vinaigrette (most of the time with some pressed garlic).

  • Michelle: I know the shop, but perhaps Yizrael down the street might be more likely to have dill seeds, although for a price! ; )

    btw: I served these with pâté for lunch today and it was a phenomenal combo!

  • I add carrots to the pickling brine left over when the pickles are gone; after a day or two in the refrigerator the pickled carrots are fabulous.

  • I have to tell you that I made these pickles around Easter, and they have become my new gilded lily. I’ve been serving them alongside cheeses, dips, sandwiches, and they just make every plate look so damn pretty. I threw a few star anise into the brine, which makes the jar look like it’s full of sea life, and it gives the carrots a little shoulder-roll.

    Thanks for the spectacular site. I’ve made a number of other things, including the Altoid Brownies, and everything has rocked.