Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ginger and Mustard Pickled Carrots

I grew up in New Jersey, which is in the heart of one of the largest Jewish American populations in America.  In our grocery stores, we had these barrels full of huge, garlicky, sour pickles.  We called them Jewish Deli pickles- I don't know if they were authentic or not, but either way, the Jewish folks who made these pickles were doing something right.  You could stick a big pair of tongs in and pull out one of the best pickles in the world.  I loved those pickles.  Nothing you can buy in a store can even compare.  The spices, garlic, dill, and vinegar came together in some magical way for the perfect crunchy bite. 

When I came across an article in Sunset magazine a few weeks ago featuring all sorts of different pickled vegetables, I knew I had to give them a try.  I was particularly drawn to the picture of the bright orange carrots mixed with slices of garlic and a sprinkling of mustard and coriander seeds throughout.  The picture was gorgeous.  How could the pickles not taste just as fabulous?  Well, my friends, I made them and they were great.  Not the same way as those pickles in the barrel- but the carrots were crunchy, garlicky, a little sweet and a little spicy. My adult-self's version of the perfect bite. I took them to a 4th of July picnic and four adults and a 6 year old ate an entire jar of them.  I guess I'm not alone in my opinion of these wonderful pickled carrots.

The carrots are great served along side a burger, as part of an appetizer spread served along side other vegetables, dips, or even cheeses.  Personally, my favorite way to eat them is straight from the jar in front of my open refrigerator door.

Ginger and Mustard Pickled Carrots
Adapted only slightly from Sunset magazine

10 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and each half sliced into 3 or 4 long sticks
2 cups of white wine vinegar
3 cups water
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs yellow mustard seeds
2 tbs coriander seeds
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
4 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
3 slices peeled, fresh ginger, each about the width of a quarter

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except the carrots.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the carrots and simmer until the carrots are tender, but still retain a slight crunch.  You want them cooked enough so that they're not raw, but they shouldn't be soft and floppy. This should take about 15 minutes. 

You'll need two clean quart-sized jars.  Put half of the carrots in each jar, then pour half of the liquid and seasonings into each.  If you don't have enough liquid to cover the carrots, add water to make up the difference (there's no measurement for this, just slowly pour the water in until the carrots are just covered with liquid).  Allow the jars to cool on the counter, then cover and refrigerate them.  Leave the carrots alone for a few days so that they can absorb the full flavor of the pickling spices.

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