Pickled Baby Carrots: An Alberta Prairie Favourite
I got married the first time when I was still wet behind the ears at twenty-two. Had my birthday in August and was married in September. We packed up everything we owned. It all fit into a car with a small hitch-covered wagon behind and moved to Lethbridge in Southern Alberta. We arrived in the fall in time for University but I had my head wrapped around the harvest. Though I am a city slicker, my roots are buried deep in this black and fertile Canadian prairie earth. It was my grandma Maude who taught me the value of gardening.
The Spring of our first year in Lethbridge I rented a massive garden plot from a sweet woman. Breathing in that youth is intoxicating.
I remember the carrots. We planted Sweet Nantes. They are still my favourite. I over-planted on purpose. Thinning was a joy. The tenderlings were crunchy and juicy and flavourful washed under the sputtering hose in the heat of the hot sun. As the carrots grew, I pickled my first batch. It was flawless and effortless. The carrots didn’t take much scrubbing and the work went fast. There is nothing like the satisfaction acquired through the production of one’s own food supply. I learned that at a very young age.
Pickled Baby Carrots: My Pickled Carrot Story
The second batch was an entirely different story. The little carrots came out of the ground riddled with groves that were embedded with dirt that scrubbing did nothing to dispel. Throwing them away would have been blasphemous. Eating them wasn’t possible crusted with dirt. I had to use a very small knife to scrupulously clean around every single grove so each was perfect for pickling. It took hours and hours and hours. I wasn’t happy. Yet, no one was making me do it. I was driven to achieve my goal of pickling all of these baby carrots. I had planted far too many and this was so time-consuming, yet I could not bear to waste them and as poor students, we could not afford to give them away. It was such a gruelling experience that I never made pickled carrots again. Wasn’t that the quintessential irony!
Pickled Baby Carrots: The Return of the Pickled Carrot to Our Home Pantry
In later years, I would buy carrots pickled with a little sugar and hot spice at The Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. They were so delicious but each quart cost me ten dollars! I wouldn’t sell them for less if I made them but that is a lot of money when I knew I could do it myself for a fraction of that.
When I read Kevin’s post about pickling his carrots, the primal urge to prepare for winter and to return to the traditions of my family motivated me to take action. The memory of me sitting in that expansive Lethbridge garden, 8 months pregnant, cleaning carrots one by one until each was pristine, side aching, skin sunburnt, seemed to beckon.
So, I decided to pickle me some carrots! I was excited!
Pickled Baby Carrots: Pickling Carrots
Start with garlic. Not any garlic. The best garlic you can find. That kind of garlic.
I don’t grow carrots in my garden as it is not large enough but there are several favourite vendors that sell small bags of my favourite Nantes carrot in pristine “ready to pickle” condition. No need to spend hours cleaning them!
I do grow my own dill. Love growing herbs and having such a lovely variety at my fingertips throughout the growing season is very empowering. The jars were ready, my Sun Dog Organics garlic was ready. The vinegar was ready… and I just stepped outside and selected my dill: “better if young rather than mature-seed-like” Kevin advises. Young seeds with some young fronds work well.
Did I tell you this was easy? Clean the jars, clean the garlic, clean the carrots (all takes just minutes) then fill the jars. That is it. Oh, boil some water to top it off and boil the lids in another little pot at the same time. You know the drill. If not, the little flat part of the lid with the rubber on it needs to be boiled for 4 to 5 minutes just before the boiling water is poured into the jar and sealed.
I only made five jars, each costing about 3 dollars. That is a win-win for me. Growing my own would make them under a dollar a jar. Try them! They are delicious and addictive. Good to be addicted to pickled carrots, right?
Other ideas for preserving at this time of year:
- Oven Roasted Tomatoes (I freeze these; they are umami-packed and scrumptious)
- Apricot Jam (so easy and exceptional)
- Roasted Red Peppers and Ajvar (I freeze the roasted peppers for winter salads)
Pickled Baby Carrots Recipe
A Canadian prairie pickle that is very easy to make, delicious, nutritious and economical.
For One Pint of Pickled Carrots
- 1 clove garlic, best quality
- 1 small bunch fresh young dill (young head of stalk)
- 60 grams or 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp pickling salt
- baby carrots to fill jar, cleaned (Nantes are my fav)
Place dill and garlic into each jar then carefully pack with carrots until reasonably snug
Boil rubber lids in water for 4-5 minutes immediately before using
Add salt and vinegar into each jar and fill with boiling water ensuring there is nothing on the rim of the jar or on the rubber of the lid
Place the hot rubbered side of the lid onto the top of the jar and hold to secure with one finger and gently screw the lid onto the jar (tighten lids the following day)
Store in cool dark place as waiting a few weeks improves the flavour and texture
You may hear popping as the pickles cool and contract the air inside of the jar, pulling the thin lid down into the jar in a concave position; that's a good thing!