Today started out so well. I did a great pushups workout with a new PR for number of reps in a single set, I went for a walk along the beach with my brother and his wife and their two dogs, I finally got my mess of a seed collection somewhat sorted (more on that in a later post), I got a load of laundry done… in general, a very productive day. And then, as I was happily finishing up my carrot pickle recipe for this month’s Can Jam, I went searching for the Twitter hash-tag to tweet my progress and – horror of horrors! – realized I’m a day late posting! I was so sure I had until Saturday night, but it turns out this was supposed to be posted by last night at midnight! Gah. It may end up that I don’t make it in this month’s round-up, but I’m posting anyway. The pickles are gorgeous and I’m doing this for the canning not for the notoriety!

I considered many different options for this month’s Can Jam, but most of them were sweet and I have too much jam in my basement, so I settled on a really basic pickle recipe from the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. The dilled beans I made in the summer were incredibly popular, so I decided to try out the dilled carrots too. I don’t generally like cooked carrots, but I’m hoping these will be an exception!

I had some carrots in the fridge, but I knew I didn’t have enough, so I stopped by Meat on the Beach, a fantastic independent grocer a few blocks from my house, and found these babies:
Heirloom Carrots
I don’t know if they’re local or organic, but they’re fantastic colours, so I grabbed a bunch of them.

The only purple carrot variety I’m familiar with is Dragon, which is purple skinned, but has orange flesh, so I was over-the-moon when I started peeling the purple carrots and discovered this – purple flesh!:
Purple Carrot
If anyone can give me a heads-up about what variety this might be and where to find the seeds, that’d be fantastic!!!

Chop, chop, chop. Aren’t these beautiful?
Chopped Carrots

These pickles use the cold-pack method, so the jars needed to be prepped immediately. I tend to be a bit lazy and prep my jars as the food I’m canning is cooking, but for a pickle like this, you’ve gotta get those jars clean and warmed up right away.
Warming the Jars

The spices here are simple. Garlic, dill (I used seeds because that’s all that was available to me, but in the summer I would use fresh dill flower heads), and hot pepper flakes:
The Spices

I only added hot peppers to half the batch. This was for two reasons – first, I wanted some that weren’t hot, and second, my sister is allergic to nuts and my hot pepper flakes have a nut warning on them. I would love to give her a jar of these, so I made half of them sister-safe!
Carrots, Dill, & Garlic

Add the liquid:
Add the Pickling Liquid

While the non-spicy batch processed in the water bath, I prepped the spicy jars:
Spicy!

For these ones, I must admit that I cheated.
Cheating...
I had a bag and a half (about 3lbs) of baby carrots in my fridge, so I used those. This was the half-bag. The full bag was organic, so maybe that makes up for my laziness, at least a little bit?

Then came the magical moment when I pulled the first batch of (non-spicy) jars out of the water bath. Check out the gorgeousness!
Purple Pickles
As you can probably see, I only put the purple carrots in 4 of the 5 jars, and the purple in the carrots bled out into the pickling liquid. I’m very happy I did that. I love the colour difference between the jars!

I can’t wait to try these pickles, but they’re going to have to sit for a few weeks so the flavours can blend. If they’re even half as good as the dilled beans, I bet they won’t last long!

See you all next month!

Dilled Heirloom Carrots
From Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving
Yield: 7 pint jars (I ended up with 10)
Level: Beginner (an easy one, as far as pickles go!)

6 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup pickling or canning salt
4 cloves garlic, halved
14 heads of dill (or 1/2 tsp dill seeds per jar, if fresh isn’t available)
3 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
5 lbs carrots (25-30 medium), ends removed, peeled and cut into sticks (1 inch/2.5 cm long and 3/4 inch/2 cm wide) – or you can cheat like I did and go with 5 lbs of baby carrots!

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.

2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt.

3. Place 1/2 clove garlic, 1 head of dill (or 1/2 tsp seeds) and 1/2 tsp of hot pepper flakes, if using, in each hot jar. Pack carrot sticks into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar. Top with second head of dill. ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover carrots, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) headspace. [I had to make more canning liquid to manage all my carrots – if you have to do that, make sure your vinegar/water/salt ratio is the same as the original batch!] Remove air bubbls and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Centre lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tight.

4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store. [Don’t know how to do this step? Check out the Tigress’ great Canning 101 post for a great primer.]

Rainbow Pickles

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