Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spicy Carrot Pickles

A couple of weeks ago, I tried out some more lacto-fermentation experiments. I have read about the spicy carrots from Real Food My Way on several blogs, so I decided to give them a try. I had some organic baby carrots in the fridge that I needed to use up, so it was perfect.

These carrots lived up to my expectations and were as delicious as all the other blogs had said they were! They are crunchy, salty, a bit sour, and spicy all in one bite! They are probably a little more spicy than I will make them in the future (will just use less crushed red pepper flakes), but they're still tolerable, even by Carson. I've been eating a few of these each day with my lunch. They're a good snack, too. Its hard to just eat a few! I will most definitely be making these regularly to keep a jar in my fridge at most times.

Preparing lacto-fermented veggies is so simple! Its much easier than pickling them in vinegar and canning them. I think I will be trying out all sorts of lacto-fermented veggies. I've done carrots and cucumbers (post to come) so far, an want to do beets next, I think. I've read a tip in Wild Fermentation to use up the pickle brine after your pickled veggies are gone. The brine can be used as a digestive tonic or in soup stock. The brine is full of Lactobacilli, which makes it great for digestion if you can sip it raw. If you can't (I can't), use it as a soup stock. Dilute it with water to your desired taste for the soup. You can also use it in place of vinegar in salad dressings.

Spicy Carrot Pickles

Glass jar with lid
Filtered water
Sea salt (not Celtic sea salt)
Jalapeno, or crushed red pepper flakes (I used red pepper flakes)

Use a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. A pint or quart sized mason jar with a metal or plastic lid is great, but an old pickle or mayonnaise jar works just as well. Wash the jar and lid with hot soapy water and rinse well.

For a pint (two cup) jar you will probably use 1 1/2 - 2 medium carrots, 1/2 an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and half of a jalapeno. You can use a hotter pepper like Serrano or Habanero (if you dare) or a milder pepper like an Anaheim, a Hungarian pepper or a pizza pepper. Be sure to adjust the "half a pepper" accordingly to the size and heat of the pepper you choose. You could also use a pinch of red pepper flakes instead of fresh peppers. I used a quart sized glass mason jar. I had some organic baby carrots to use up, so I used those and just sliced them all in half lengthwise. I didn't have a pepper, so I just used crushed red pepper flakes.

Wash the carrots, but don't peel them. Slice them into long ovals by slicing on a steep diagonal to about 1/4 inch thickness. Peel and slice the garlic cloves and slice the onion longitudinally (from pole to pole, not around the equator) into 1/2 inch slices or into chunks. Slice the jalapeno into rings. Layer the vegetables in the jar to within an inch of the threads.

To make the brine, I used the method described in Wild Fermentation. You can read Alyss' post (linked above) for her method of making brine. Brines are often expressed as a percentage of weight of the solution. When added to 1 quart of water, each Tablespoon of sea salt adds 1.8% brine. Low-salt pickles are around 3.5% brine. Normal pickles are around 5.4% brine, but they are quite salty. I used about 2 1/2 Tablespoons salt for a 4.5% brine.

Make sure you are using pure sea salt. Do not use Celtic or grey salt because it is too moist. Moist salt is sometimes known for carrying bacteria and mold that can ruin your ferments. If you want to use moist Celtic sea salt then you should bake it first until it is dry.

Once you have your brine made, pour it over the jar full of vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables, but still be below the threads of the jar. Screw the lid on tight and set it on the counter to begin fermenting.

Check your pickles every day and learn to look for signs of fermentation. The day after you make your carrot pickles open the jar and listen for popping, fizzing or hissing as you open the jar. Smell the contents and then taste a sip of the brine. Is it at all sour or fizzy or still just salty? Put the lid back on and let it sit out for another day. It usually takes 2-5 days for signs of fermentation to really show up. When your pickles are popping, fizzing or starting to taste sour then move them to the fridge. Carrot pickles usually taste best after another two or three days in the fridge and will last for months without getting mushy or gross. The onion will start to get a little mushy after a month or so but whole garlic cloves are still virtually raw until at least a month in the brine.

This post is linked to Grain-Free Tuesday at Hella Delicious.


The Voogts said...

Yum!!! I'm anxious to try more fermented veggies too. So great to have for snacks. You get your veggies plus a digestive aid.

hellaD said...

Yeah these look fantastic, funny I was just thinking of making fermented carrots yesterday. I will have to try this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing with Grain Free Tuesdays. I love you site! So much great info.