Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spicy Carrot Pickles

For many of us, food is the vehicle through which we experience life. We plan vacations around the restaurants we would like to visit. I think that the best way to experience the culture of an area is through the local food. For many who visit San Francisco, Tartine Bakery is one of those destinations.

They produce the best bread that I have ever had. It is a levain style with a moist chewy interior and crispy crust. I think it rivals the baguettes in France for my favorite bread ever. Tartine is located in a rather hip neighborhood and right next door to another destination restaurant, Delfina. It's also within a block or two of Bi-Right Creamery. I live in Oakland which is really just a short train ride into the city, but surprisingly I have only been to Tartine twice.

The first time I went I ordered one of their pressed sandwiches. It wasn't particularly memorable, but what I do remember are the pickled carrots that were served with it. Sweet, spicy, crunchy. I wished that I could just have a big plate of those. So when I saw a recipe for pickled carrots in Molly's book, I didn't hesitate, not even for a minute. Fortunately, I had just gotten some baby carrots at the farmer's market, and their fate was sealed.

Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme
adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
I have been tasting a carrot (or two) each day, and the strength of the brine is mellowing more each day. The next time I make these I will probably double the amount of red pepper flakes below. So if you like spicy, I would suggest starting out with 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes.

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 sprigs fresh thyme
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Heaping 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Heaping 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 pounds small (finger-sized) carrots, or standard carrots cut into sticks about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup vinegar.

Wash the carrots and put them in a large, heatproof bowl, and pour the warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.

While the carrots cool, wash 2 quart sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water.

When the carrots and brine are cool, distribute the carrots evenly among the jars, arranging them snugly. Divide the brine evenly among the jars. The carrots should be covered completely by the brine. If they are not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.

Seal firmly and refrigerate for at least 3 days, or, preferably, a week. Carrots are dense and take time to absorb the brine.

Note: Covered and refrigerated, the pickled carrots should last a month or two.


  1. i keep experimenting with pickled carrots -- love 'em! i too was originally inspired by the carrots at tartine.

  2. I have had my eye on this recipe for a while now.
    they look so wonderful in the jar
    eat one for me

  3. I asked yesterday, and was told the Tartine carrots have juniper berries in the brine.