Okay, the drought is affecting crops. Some of those veggies are smaller. Maybe they need a flavor boost. Here you go: pickled carrots. This recipe calls for baby carrots but you can use “smallish” ones. Or, you can use any veggie you want. Beans, broccoli, cucumbers. The pickling broth here is a deep, dark gem.
And the result? Suzen made these last week and on Saturday night, after a week, we opened up a jar and put them out for appetizers — along with the jalapenos slices that are part of the pickling process.
“Oh,” a guest said. “That’s great. I thought it was just fresh. But’s pickled. It’s wonderful.” Now, our guest did have a glass full of vodka in his hand, but the glass was still full and this sparkling comment of his was very sincere. These carrots have a sharp bite. They surprise and they please.
Oh, the recipe calls for pickling salt. What is that? It is pure salt with no iodine and no anti-caking products. The in standard table salt will not affect the pickle flavor appreciably, but the pickling juice will be dark and possibly cloudy.
And, this is a refrigerator pickling recipe. You need a clean jar, but not one sterilized in boiling water. That boiling process is often a barrier to pickling at home. It seems arduous, and in fact getting a quart jar out of that big pot with water using the tongs is really not easy. Here, none of that complication is before you.
Pickled Baby Carrots with Dill
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 pound 4-inch carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
- ¼ minced dill leaves or 2 whole dill sprigs
- 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 red jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced [green will do!]
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
- 1 ½ teaspoons pickling salt
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
Blanch the carrots in boiling water, or steam them, for 2 minutes or until they are barely tender. Immerse them in cold water until they are cool.
Pack the carrots and dill into a quart jar. In a saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil. Cover the carrots with the liquid. Cap the jar and let it cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate the jar for 2 days or longer before eating the carrots. Refrigerated, they will keep for at least 2 months.
Source: The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich and Wikipedia
Cucumbers do not get their full respect. They are versatile to the highest degree. Healthy, of course. And they have that distinctive flavor and that aroma that simply announces to the world: freshness is here.
Cucumbers are a staple of world cuisine. Go ahead, google “Turkish cucumber recipes” and see what delights appear. Replace “Turkish” with “Thai” and more delights abound. The potential for cucumbers is endless.
Cucumbers were first cultivated in Asia, probably India, over 3,000 years ago. The Romans introduced them to Europe and they were a daily favorite of Roman emperors. Roman science developed early “greenhouse” systems so that cucumbers, and other treats, were available year round. [Yes, it snows in Rome!]
Columbus and other explorers brought the cucumber to the New World and they have become core ingredients here, too. Go ahead, google “Canadian cucumber reicpes.”
While any cucumber dish is instantly recognizable — you knew what it was in the picture above in a flash — the exact flavor is usually a secret until you taste it. Depending on the liquid, spices and other flavorings, the cucumber recipe can be sweet, hot, herby, or just mysterious. Cucumbers naturally marry to herbs especially dill and mint.
This salad’s name says it all: refreshing. There is a hint of pepper heat, sourness from the vinegar, bite from the onion, but primarily this is just delicious cucumber flavor. We served this salad with spicy baked beans and hot chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a perfect trio. Add a beer, put your feet up, and you are ready to take anything.
Refreshing Cucumber Salad
Serves: 4 to 6 modestly
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the cucumbers and onion. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
Now add the cucumbers and onion. Mix well.
Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Drain the liquid and serve.
Source: Wings Across America by Armand Vandersitgchel