That Molly, she doesn’t mess around. Those pickled carrots, they knocked my socks off. First, because they were good. Second, because they were HOT. SFC thought they were just right but they were too spicy for me. So depending on your tolerance, you might want to turn down the heat by reducing the red pepper flakes and maybe not cracking the black pepper corns.
Also, Molly’s basic brine is beautifully versatile. After the carrots were safely tucked away in the fridge to do their thing, I cooked up a second batch for some asparagus. Instead of red pepper flakes and thyme, I used fresh dill. A quick taste hints at a slightly sweeter flavor with a more traditional tang. Next time, I will wait and add the dill after the brine is off the heat to prevent some slight dill discoloration. And instead of putting in whole bunches of dill, I will give it a rough chop. Because having a big dill frond cling to your pickled asparagus is not good eating.
In case you missed the recipe, here it is. I encourage you to mix things up and use vegetables and herbs and spices that you like. Because, as I said to our guests as we devoured a plate full of pickled carrots and asparagus, this is ridiculously easy.
Molly’s Spicy Pickled Carrots
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for topping jars
- 2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 6 (5 to 6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 pounds small (finger sized) carrots, or standard sized carrots cut into sticks about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long
Combine 1 1/2 cups vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt, and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup vinegar.
Put carrots in large heatproof bowl, pour warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.
While the carrots cool, wash two quart sized canning jars and their lids in warm soapy water.
When carrots and brine are cooled, divide carrots evenly between jars, arranging them snugly. Using your fingers and wide mouth canning jars makes this easier. Divide the brine evenly between the jars. The carrots should be completely covered by the brine. If not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.
Seal firmly and refrigerate three days to a week. The carrots take time to absorb the brine.