Spicy Pickled Carrots With Fennel Fronds
As the air gets colder by the day, and the garden spits out its last peppers and cherry tomatoes of the year, it was time for a little cleaning-out of the containers on the roof. Some are still growing radishes planted not too long ago; some still have potatoes branching out every whichway in the soil. I pulled up all the carrots that had been slowly digging deeper into their keg-containers, in three different shades and shapes.
I love pickling carrots, because they hold up so well to a good soak in brine. They’re crunchy and their sweet flavor gets a smack of sour and salty to round it out. And, with a few hot peppers spared from the roof as well, they’ve got a spicy accent as well.
My first victims were these charming “Paris Market,” or Parisienne carrots, with their squat, rotund shapes with blunted ends. I’ve also heard of them referred to as “Thumbelina carrots” — in any case, they’re clearly adorable and I thought they’d be great for pickling when I bought the seeds.
Then, there were some lemon sorbet-yellow Nantes carrots that had grown to wildly differing sizes; and “dragon” carrots with deep wine-colored exteriors and bright orange cores. They all smelled extremely sweet and carrot-y as I was washing off all the dirt from their skins.
The most fun part was pickling them, though. I chose an apple cider vinegar base, and cooked it a little with cinnamon sticks and black peppercorns. Two different types of hot peppers — orange Thai peppers (the skinny, long ones) and Aurora peppers (the multicolored Christmas tree light-looking ones) — went into the bottoms of each mason jar, along with a few cloves of garlic.
As a last-minute touch, I snipped off a few wisps of a fennel plant that was long past its bulb-forming time. These sturdy green wisps have a strong anise flavor and hold up well to a soak in brine, too. I’ve seen wild fennel that looks pretty much like this old plant of mine growing all over the Bay Area — it’s nice when there’s some yellow flowering parts to combine with the green fronds in the for a floral touch, too.
I popped open one jar of these and noted that they do taste pretty spicy, thanks to the peppers used. Thankfully that can always be adjusted to taste, but I rather like ’em hot. Can’t wait to put them on an hors d’oeuvres spread at a holiday party in a few months.
Spicy Pickled Carrots with Fennel Fronds
(makes one 16 0z. mason jar)
about 1 1/2 cups carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and cut to similar-sized spears if large
8 oz. apple cider vinegar
4 oz. water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp Kosher salt
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 small hot peppers (such as Thai peppers, jalapenos, etc.)
2-3 long wisps of fennel fronds
Boil the mason jar and lid completely submerged in water for 10 minutes to sanitize. Keep water boiling for processing step at end (see last instruction).
Combine the vinegar, water, salt, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Place the garlic cloves, hot peppers and fennel fronds in the bottom of the mason jar. Arrange the carrots inside the mason jar. Fill carefully with the hot brine, pouring in the black peppercorns and the cinnamon stick, too. Screw cap on tightly. Place the jar upright in the boiling water so that it’s mostly submerged up to the cap (but doesn’t reach the cap’s rim). Let boil for another 5-10 minutes. Remove and let cool at room temperature. If the lid’s seal sucks in tightly after a few hours, you’re safe to store at room temperature until opening (after which point you can store in the refrigerator).
Posted: October 10th, 2011 under Recipes.