Over the summer, tenacious weeds heartily battled for garden dominance against thick stalked tomatoes, clingy tangly peas and whimsical curling garlic. I am proud to say that despite their never-say-die weedy stubbornness and my own tragic neglect, our garden fared pretty well and and we ate fresh, nourishing and delicious produce from June until September. By the time the frost came and the weeds crossed their arms and huffed surrendered I was plum tired of digging…and so I left the carrots in the dirt and pretended that winter wasn’t coming.
In June I’d planted two types of carrots- a common orange variety that went into the ground a little late, and an experiment with heritage seed, a deep-hued mahogany carrot called “Purple Dragon”. I planted them but I never thinned them and by late July it was apparent that my carrots weren’t just battling pesky weeds, they were also fighting amongst themselves for coveted ground space. I turned a blind eye and applied Darwin’s theory of evolution. If I left these carrots alone- only the fittest of the species would win out the battle for vegetable dominance and by September I’d have beautiful rows of pristine- delicious and LARGE carrots. After about the third frost I finally pulled on my wellingtons (for the last time this year I desperately hoped) and began prying those multicolored carrots out of their earthy repose.
…And they were tiny. I found no large carrots and there were only about 10 normal-sized carrots in the lot, and let me tell you- there were a lot!
So what do you do with a bushel of tiny carrots? Why, you pickle them of course. Imagine rows and rows of rainbow coloured baby carrots lining the shelves of the pantry and infusing the sombre basement with an array of multi-colored gems. Imagine impressing your dinner guests at a mid-winter feast with delightful, delectable crunchy, crispy cornichons. Yes- those little neglected carrots would wow the crowds and were indeed destined for brine.
The recipe I used is from cook book author and food blogger, David Lebowitz. I tweaked the processing for my version because I wanted my pickles to store in the pantry- not the fridge. I also refrained from peeling my little carrot-gems. They succumbed to a good scrubbing- had their tops and tails trimmed and that’s it.
Fill your water caner with water and 6 water-filled clean pint jars. Bring to a boil and keep at a simmer-covered until you are ready to can. In a separate pot, submerge 6 sealers in a pot and bring to a light boil- then reduce heat to keep warm (these don’t have to boil long- in fact, they shouldn’t).
Wash and trim 3 lbs of baby carrots and set aside.
In a large pot combine:
3 3/4 c. water
3 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 c. sugar
4 1/2 tsp dill seed
4 1/4 Tbsp pickling salt
Bring to the boil and let simmer-covered. Stuff your empty, sterilized canning jars with a garlic clove and a bay leaf and as many carrots as it’ll hold, then fill the jar with brine leaving 1/2 inch head space. Finger tighten your lids over the sealer and process in your water caner- making sure the boiling water covers the lids- for 20 minutes.
Pull your jars from their boiling water bath and let sit until you hear the tell-tale pop of the sealer …well, sealing. Let you jars incubate for at least two weeks before you start munching on your crunchy homemade carrots. Enjoy:)