Too Many Carrots!!!

(note: I’m away at music camp this week. I’ll be back soon, though).

It’s finally happened. I never thought it would. I’ve heard other people talk about it, but somehow I never truly believed we’d have TOO MUCH produce.
Namely, right now we have too many carrots, and I’m running out of ideas. Carrot cake? Done it. Also carrot muffins. Also carrot-coconut muffins.
Carrot juice? Yup. Getting tired of that, too.
We’re eating them raw in salads, as snacks, giving them away to anyone who even comes NEAR the house…and we’re still not catching up.

I suppose this is an important gardening lesson: succession plantings are a good thing. Alternately phrased, “if you plant all your seeds at once, there will come a time when they are ALL ready at the SAME TIME.”
So I started asking around, and my friend Kate directed me to a recipe for Moroccan-Style Pickled Carrots (Bon Appetit, May 2010) that she had been meaning to try, and I thought I’d give it a go.
Of course, I can’t ever follow a recipe exactly (the curse of being experimental in the kitchen), so I put all sorts of other “inspired” ingredients into it. We shall have to wait and see how inspired these additions/substitutions actually are. Now I’m in the waiting phase – I’ll be trying some of these pickled carrots in the next couple of weeks, and will certainly get back to you with the results. In the meantime, I encourage you to send me ANYTHING exciting/tasty that you know to do with carrots.
Because we’re running out of room in the fridge.

Pickled Carrots

A whole mess of carrots, peeled and cut into spears or rounds (enough to fill 3 quart jars)
1 Tbsp whole mustard seed
1 Tbsp whole cumin seed
3 bay leaves (I use CA Bay Laurel, which is much stronger – 1 1/2 leaves will do), cut into strips
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
zest (yellow part only) of 2 large lemons, sliced into strips or grated
3-6 dried hot peppers (I used chiles de arbol), plus some extra seeds or hot pepper flakes
9 black peppercorns
2 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c white sugar (or evap. cane juice)
2 Tbsp salt
Before you begin, make sure you thoroughly sterilize the jars/lids/rings/tools used for canning. It is very important that no bacteria has a chance to get into the jars, so do this RIGHT before you pack them.
Peel the carrots, and cut them into spears or rounds that will fit evenly into the jars. Cut the dry hot peppers into halves lengthwise. Slice the bay leaves and lemon zest into thin strips. Peel and slice the garlic into thin rounds.

Pack the jars with alternating layers of carrots, bay leaf and zest strips, chiles, garlic, and spices. You can let the mustard, cumin, and black pepper fall to the bottom, but it is better if everything is evenly spaced out within the carrots.
Meanwhile, pour the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Pour this brine over the packed jars while still hot, filling the jars nearly to the top (leave about 1/2″ headroom).
Make sure the jar edges are very clean, and screw down the lids tightly. The pickles will be ready to eat after 1 week, but will get better as they steep in the brine.
Water bath process the jars for 1o minutes if they are not going to be immediately refrigerated.

I imagine using these pickles as a garnish for a taco salad or tostadas, dicing them fine to serve over a salsa-marinated baked chicken breast, or just served as a snack. I’ll certainly be craving salty, pickle-y stuff up at music camp (I hear it’s about a million degrees up there).

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