Back in our old apartment, before the move, before the kitchen excavation, our fridge was always full to the gills, except most of if its contents were myriad jars of preserved and pickled things are various stages of fermentation. There was always two jars of kimchi (newly fermented and older), preserved lemons, garlic confit, sauerkraut, quick-pickled onions, a few jams, and jars of anchovies, capers, mustards and the like. When we moved, I had to use up as many of these jars as I possibly could, but inevitably, some of them were thrown out, much to my chagrin.
Then, for several months, while our kitchen was a construction site, it was pointless to have jars of any kind because we didn’t have a kitchen. If we had to make our coffee in the bathroom, there wasn’t much room for preserved goods. Besides, at the time, our refrigerator lived in the dining room.
Luckily, our kitchen is finally running as it should. I’m even finding my own rhythm in it. I don’t know if it’s like this for everyone – getting your footing in a new kitchen, learning its nooks and crannies and moving knowingly and comfortably in it. For me, this time around in the new kitchen has been a little challenging – I was so used to the old layout, it took me awhile to commit to memory where I kept certain things. But now – I have a pace of my own.
And now that Marisa’s second book, Preserving by the Pint, is in my hands, I can get back to pickling and preserving – and with a bigger fridge to boot, I can fit many more jars. Win!
I was determined to make something from the Spring chapter. After this winter, I needed spring to happen. but while it’s not longer painfully cold, our farmers’ market hasn’t yet gotten the spring memo. Spring might be on our calendars, but it’s still winter in the northeast farmers’ markets. We don’t have much variety other than onions, carrots, and loose tubers.
I wanted to make something from Marisa’s book but I didn’t want to wait. I found these pickled carrots sticks, and on a rainy day, when there wasn’t much in my fridge, and I wasn’t about to go out in the pouring rain, I had all the ingredients in the pantry.
And so, I trimmed the carrots to the desired side. I no longer peel my carrots – I just scrub them really well – as I heard somewhere that the top layer has so much nutritional value, peeling carrots is kind of a waste. The first time around, I blanched my carrots, per instructions, but they came out too mushy. Undeterred, I blanched a second batch for just mere seconds. Somewhat mushy again.
To hell with it, I thought, and dumped the third batch of carrots sticks – hoping third time’s a charm – into warm marinade. And then I gave it about a day.
The third batch, indeed, was a winner. I don’t know why, but blanching just made my carrots go all limp, and what I love in my pickled carrots sticks is the snap and crunch – the resistance of the firm carrot.
And now – pickled carrot sticks! Totally great in anything from sprucing up a boring desk lunch (when I am lucky to make myself a boring desk lunch to begin with), to dressing up a sandwich, something to snack on when you’re procrastinating (which never happens around these corners). In fact, pickled carrot sticks should be in everyone’s fridge at all times, winter or spring. And should spring finally show its face at my local greenmarket, Marisa’s book is going to get a lot of use and some smudged pages.
It’s come to my attention (and I realize I’m late to this news, because kitchen renovations. because books! because work!) but Facebook changed its algorithm and not people aren’t seeing SR posts (which means you’re probably getting more work done and haven’t suffered with me on kitchen updates). However, if you like SR and want to continue to see it in your Facebook stream, just go to the SR Facebook URL, click “Like,” and then be sure to click on “Get Notifications” from the drop-down menu.
Pickled Carrot Sticks
Liberally adapted from Preserving by the Pint
I took a lot of liberties here as I tinkered around with my marinade. I wanted sugar for balance, and I wanted more spices to liven up the pickle. As I mentioned before, blanching gave me limp and mushy carrots sticks and I was after the crunch, so I decided to keep them raw and that was the ticket. And finally, because I like a little bit of heat, and thought the carrots could use some, I added a dried chile pepper, seeds and all. The beauty of Marisa’s book is that it gives you a good base – a canvas if you will – and you can make it yours as you get more comfortable with pickling.
1 pound (460 grams) carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks long enough to fit the jars
1 cup (240 ml) cider vinegar
1 cup (240 ml) water
3 tablespoons (37 grams) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1 Thai chile, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
Place carrots in a large jar (about 1 quart should do). Combine the remaining ingredients and bring them to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 3 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over carrots, and let cool, uncovered. Seal and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.
Pickled carrots will keep for up to 1 month.