The ingredient chosen for this month's Tigress Can Jam is carrots. Chosen by Doris and Jilly Cook, carrots are a wonderful harbinger of spring, when crocuses push their flamboyant heads to the surface, forsythia burst into bloom, baby chicks pip their way into this world, and the snow, that has blanketed the ground for weeks, finally melts. It couldn't come any sooner. I slipped hard on the ice on my driveway three nights ago, whacking my entire left side in the process. I've no beef with snow or ice, per se, only with it's loitering tendencies this winter. Let the wild rumpus begin, (er, come on spring!) already!
Anyway, back to carrots. A naturally low-acid food, carrots need a big bump of supplemental acid in order to be water bath canned safely. As such, I opted to pickle them. This world can never have too many pickles, especially when you live in a pickle-loving household with a pickle-loving spouse. We're always game for Indian-inspired flavors, so a riff on Madras curry seemed in order. Cardamom pods, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and brown mustard seeds provide the spice while a vinegar/water/sugar/salt brine provides the necessary acid. I used a variety of brightly colored carrots here, rendering the brining liquid a riotous ruby hue. I think it's a much-needed antidote to winter's monochromatic palette 'round here. Enjoy!
Madras Carrot Pickles
-1 pound fresh carrots
-1 1/4 c. white vinegar
-1 1/4 c. water
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. pickling or kosher salt
-9 cardamom pods
-3 tsp. black peppercorns
-3 tsp. coriander seeds
-3 tsp. brown mustard seeds
-3/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds
-3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
-3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
-Sterilize 3 pint-sized mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from stovetop, and set aside.
-Wash and scrub carrots. Cut each up stalk into 4 inch pieces, quartering any thick pieces. Place into a pot, cover with cold water, and put over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes. While carrots cook, prepare an ice water bath. Once cooking time ends, immediately plunge carrots into prepared ice bath. Remove from water and pat dry. Set aside.
-In a heavy, medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. This is your brining solution.
- Place hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. Into the bottom of each jar, place 3 cardamom pods, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, and 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds. Pack carrot sticks into jars on top of seeds, packing contents close, but not terribly tightly. With the help of a canning funnel, ladle brining solution evenly over carrots, reserving ½-inch headspace. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
- Using a jar lifter, place jars in canner. Process 30 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.