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spicy carrot pickle presents

A deep downy fog wrapped around our cold hill this morning. The firs that can usually be seen waving their skirts and climbing high into the sky were barely faint shadows in the white soup. The birds we feed dropped in by the hundreds, out of a dense snowy nowhere. Such a quiet fell on this place! I so love a good foggy morning! (Do you?)

The car wouldn’t leave its garage today. There’d be no stop and go, bumper-to-bumper for me. No crowded stores with pokey elbows. No waiting in long queues at the post office. It was the very day I’ve been hoping for, a day to stay at home, to stare out the window for some peaceful moments … and to pickle me some presents.

I could have done a better job of matching today’s recipe to the weather by making a good thick pea soup. But peas weren’t what I had. What I had were carrots. (I was going to give them to you yesterday, being Wednesday and the day I normally serve you up some veggies, but I got very distracted with choirs of little ones singing, and bells ringing on street corners and all the rest of it. You know.)  Anyway, back to the carrots.

SpicyCarrotPickles-1Instead of just EATing them, here today gone tomorrow, let’s make them last. And let’s help them take a little chill off of winter while we’re at it.

(And even if you’ve never canned before, these are NOT hard to do.)


Spicy Carrot Pickles

(makes 4 pint jars)

2 pounds carrots, trimmed & scrubbed

5½ cups cider vinegar * (5% acidity – important)

1 Tablespoon pure kosher salt

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

8 dried hot chilies, stemmed

4 cloves garlic, sliced

4 sprigs thyme

1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (to suit your taste)

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

½ small white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise


* I used an unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Wash and (if desired) peel your carrots. (Here’s an opportunity to insert a Spreenkle 7.1 – Garbage disposals do NOT like your peelings. I heard it on authority…you know the guy, who’s asking for a belt for Christmas. I would have thought disposals would love them, eat them up, but noooo.  Your garden however, does love your peelings. And here’s a word from our Luke – “Those ends you’re trimming – now would be a nice time to toss your faithful Golden with the silvery muzzle a little something to show your appreciation for the many times he gets up in a day to follow you around and lie at your feet.”)


Trim the carrots into 4-inch lengths, to fit upright in pint jars. Cut them so that they’re no thicker than ½-inch. Set aside in a bowl (or pitcher) of ice-water.

SpicyCarrotPickles-2Put your canning pot on the stove and fill with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1-inch. Bring the heat up. Wash the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot. Place the flat lids in a heat-proof bowl.

Gather your ingredients together and have them handy.


In a wide, 6-to 8-quart pan, combine the vinegar, 1 cup water, the salt, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves (only). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the carrots from their ice bath and add them to the simmering pickling brine. Cook until just crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes

Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, emptying their water back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.

Working quickly, divide the chiles, garlic, thyme sprigs, red pepper flakes and black peppercorns among the jars. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the hot carrots to the jars being careful not to pack them too tightly. Fill in the empty spaces with slivers of white onion. Ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving ½- inch headspace at the top. Using a chopstick, remove any air bubbles that might be hiding amidst the carrots.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars then put the flat lids and a ring on each jar. Adjust the ring so that it’s just finger-tight.  (If you’re using Weck jars like the ones here, place the rubber ring over dampened rim, then the glass lid on top, then fasten with clips.)

Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure that the water covers the jar tops by at least one inch. Bring the pot to a boil and BOIL for 15 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours. After 1 hour check to make sure that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of the metal lid. If it can be pushed down, the jar isn’t properly sealed but can be placed in the refrigerator and be perfectly fine for months. (With Weck jars, if the “knob” of the rubber gasket points down, you have a good seal. See in the photos.)

After 12 hours – Label your pickles, and store or gift wrap.



I know you can’t tell from the jar, but these are so very tasty! They go beautifully with a sandwich – try with a grilled cheese or panini!



Click to print.


This recipe is borrowed from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff – a great little resource for preserving all sorts of things!

42 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mari Anna #

    You’ve inspired me again!

    December 13, 2012
    • Oh have I? Thank you Mari Anna! You’ve done that for me, time and again!

      December 14, 2012
  2. That looks amazing!

    December 13, 2012
  3. This post is so pretty. I miss pickled carrots. We used to always have them at Mexican restaurants in Cali. Not here. These look wonderful.

    December 13, 2012
    • Thanks a lot Greg! You may need to make your own, eh?

      December 14, 2012
  4. Yummy! How I adore pickled carrots…and J Bug too. We can’t get enough of them. I love the pictures of your sweet little tags and scissors with bakers’ twine. And that one of the ingredients on the tray is exquisite. xoxo

    December 13, 2012
    • Thank you Ashley! Your little J may be a bit off-put by these? They’re on the spicy side….but they wouldn’t NEED to be! Just omit most of the red chile flakes and they’re fit for a kid’s tender tongue!

      December 14, 2012
  5. Never really been a pickle person, at least as far as dill pickles go which is what most Americans think of when they hear the word. [I do enjoy tsukemono, Japanese pickled vegetables.] But the spicy ingredients and your ideas for consuming them in different ways make these carrot pickles very enticing. I do believe if I had the necessary hardware on hand, I would try preparing them. The merits of your recipe aside, I am compelled to comment on your photography, which is always first rate, but if any photographs I’ve ever seen merit the term “art” to describe them, these surely do. Their composition pleases the eye in ineffable ways that somehow incorporates the classical ideals of grace and beauty.

    December 13, 2012
    • The Japanese have quite a way with pickling vegetables don’t they Joe? The “hardware” as you say are inexpensive! Not talking pressure cooker here, just one of those black and white speckled pots with the rack inside for keeping the jars from tipping over. And a jar lifter ($3 or $4?) This is FUN to do! And the rewards….well you can guess! 🙂 And Joe, a deep thank you for such words of appreciation! I’m humbled by them.

      December 14, 2012
  6. And once again you’ve given us such beautiful food photography.. I can’t wait to find out how your contest went! But you’ve won for us already.. such pretty loveliness here.. every single time:) Pickled carrots are the perfect way to spend a soupy day, tucked cozy at home.. and I love your little tags and handwriting. Another fabulous post, spree! xx Smidge

    December 13, 2012
    • Smidge, I always appreciate your comments so much! They cheer me more than you know! 😉 Thank you so much for all the sweet Smidgey words! xx Spree

      December 14, 2012
  7. It’s as if you were with me earlier today, Spree. Every quarter, an import store opens its doors to the public for one weekend. This is that weekend. While waiting to check out, I was standing in front of a display of all things pickled. I grabbed — and put back – a jar of pickled carrots twice. (I’m sure that I would have done it a 3rd time but the line moved.) I’ve so much that I canned and pickled last Summer/Fall that I just didn’t want to add to the larder. Now, though, I’ll do the next best thing, I’ll pin the recipe and make my own. Teach a man to pickle… 🙂
    Thanks, Spree!

    December 13, 2012
    • i WAS there with you John…just a few feet away, watching as you faced that agonizing dilemma, to buy or not to buy. You poor thing! Putting it back, picking it up again, and finally walking away without your pickled carrots. Your spirits obviously sunken! My heart felt for you! And thus, the post. 🙂 (Thanks for the inspiration John!)

      December 14, 2012
  8. That is an excellent idea. I’m mad for pickles and pickled carrots haven’t entered my life yet. They will now:)

    December 14, 2012
    • You’ll be gratified they did! 🙂

      December 14, 2012
  9. You food fotography is really inspiring. I like your label too.

    December 14, 2012
    • What a nice thing to say! Thank you!

      December 14, 2012
  10. carolyn #

    I was recommending your blog to some friends and someone asked me, who does her AMAZING photography? I agree with Smidge… you have already won the contest in our hearts! You capture the absolute beauty of a simple act, such as the rinsing of a bunch of carrots. Then every subsequent photo is part of a journey that takes us into a magical realm where food is exquisitely seen and felt, revered and elevated. Could a jar of carrots be more sublime? Could a photo collage better conjure the nostalgic warmth of something deeply nourishing simmering in the kitchen? I feel this ineffable quality every time I walk through your blog. A truly stunning post.

    December 14, 2012
    • Carolyn, would you like to be my agent? You’re much too good to me, but that’s the very thing I’m looking for in an agent! 😀 Thank you dear C – my heart overflows!

      December 14, 2012
  11. Oooh what a beautiful present idea! I have not ventured into the pickling realm before but I think I might just give it a go! Thank you for the inspiration. Xx

    December 14, 2012
    • Oh thank you! Pickles are flat out fun! There’s some sort of “reward” in this kind of kitchen activity that goes beyond the obvious edible reward at the end. Hope you’ll give it a go and let me know if you do!

      December 14, 2012
  12. Beautiful pickles but was totally distracted by that stunning photo of the water on the carrots – perfect!

    December 14, 2012
    • gee thanks, Tanya! 🙂

      December 18, 2012
  13. Such a simple and beautiful process Spree, thank you! I love pickled carrots and your finished jars look amazing!

    December 14, 2012
  14. Your pickled carrots sound great. I always like the ones I get at a local Mexican restaurant.

    December 14, 2012
    • They’re kind of a natural with Mexican food aren’t they? (and these are really good!) 🙂

      December 18, 2012
  15. Spree, you are going to make a few lucky recipients very happy with these delicious carrot pickles. What a fun gift with your adorable cards and twine. Take care, BAM

    December 14, 2012
    • Well, I sure hope they like them, Bam! I’m afraid it won’t be much of a surprise! 🙂

      December 18, 2012
  16. I love pickled veggies! lovely pics!

    December 15, 2012
    • Thank you! I loves ’em too!

      December 18, 2012
  17. Liked the idea, and really loved the first picture!

    December 15, 2012
    • Thank you Shimon. I love a flamboyant bunch of carrots!

      December 18, 2012
  18. YES! But I’d be a terrible one. Unless it were a secret agent, then I’d be okay.

    December 15, 2012
  19. I think Carolyn, despite her protestations, would be an excellent agent, spree!~ Her thoughts exactly mirror mine. I’ve never seen carrots in such a new light! Wish I could pickle…

    December 16, 2012
    • Janina, thanks so much for your nice words! And of COURSE you could pickle! If I can, you most certainly could! Pickle, girl!

      December 18, 2012
  20. Patsy Ruth Bressler #

    My appetite is coming back, hurrah for THAT. And now you’re into pickling?!!!! I entered the local fair with pickled green beans and also bread and butter pickles out of our surplus zucchini, other stuff,too. Congrats on the pickled carrots!!

    Sent from my iPad

    December 16, 2012
    • Thank you Patsy Ruth! 🙂

      December 18, 2012
  21. Stunning pictures Spree, they are so warm and cosy too! Perfection as always, tags, love them and those jars are so sweeet – makes our UK versions look so clumpy and overgrown!

    December 17, 2012
    • Thank you my friend!Means a lot, and even more coming from you. (And the jars, I agree, pretty adorable aren’t they?)

      December 18, 2012
  22. I love foggy days!
    As a kid they always reminded me of fairy tales, castles hidden in the clouds, the excitement only mystry can provide and the idea that you are walking in a cloud even if your feet are touching the ground always put a smile on my face 🙂
    I love carrots but they usually don’t last long enough to make it into any recipes, we like them fresh but I am I might just hide a few away to try this heavenly combination of flavors you have here

    December 22, 2012
    • Sawsan, you’re the only person that responded to the fog! 🙂 I knew someone out there had to be affected similarly by it! Walking in a cloud even though your feet are touching the ground…what a lovely image that is to hold onto! Thank you!

      December 23, 2012

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