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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Zuni Café’s Zucchini Pickles (Wednesday Chef)
Pickled Red Onions (Matt Bites)
Bread and Butter Pickles (Simply Recipes)
Giardiniera (Smitten Kitchen)
Bread and Butter Pickles (Over a Tuscan Stove)