Three or four times a year, Sam and I brave the Sunday brunch crowd and have lunch at Tartine Bakery. And when I say brave the Sunday brunch crowd, I really mean it: the line snakes out the door and along the bakery windows and it can be thirty minutes before you reach the counter to place your order. By this time, I’m usually hungry and tired of waiting in line, so I order something that I can carry to the table with me: a croissant, a morning bun, a piece of quiche. Sam, on the other hand, doesn’t succumb to instant gratification but orders a spicy turkey pressed sandwich. We scurry into two open seats at a communal table. I dig into the airy, buttery layers of my croissant, sharing the flaky shards with Sam. I finish my croissant and Sam looks around for his sandwich; thirty minutes after he ordered, it arrives. The sandwich is massive, sliced into three pieces. Alongside his tower of pressed bread lie three slender orange carrots. I bite into one and am startled by the briny, spicy flavor—the carrots are pickled. I knew carrots could be pickled, but it wasn’t until I tried one at Tartine that the idea appealed to me and I decided to try making my own.
I was delighted to learn that making pickled carrots requires only two steps: parboiling the carrots and covering them with a simmering brine of apple cider vinegar, spices and chili peppers. Pop the jar of carrots into the refrigerator for three days until the brine and spices infuse the carrots with their sweet and spicy flavors. And there you have it—homemade pickled carrots just like at Tartine, except you don’t have to wait an hour to eat them.
Aside from being an accompaniment for sandwiches, pickled carrots make a crisp, peppery addition to any antipasto platter, alongside warm marinated olives, gougeres, crackers, cheese and charcuterie meats. Feel free to adjust the spices in the brine according to your taste or what you have available.
Recipe adapted from Food in Jars.
1 lb. carrots, trimmed and cut to fit jar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water (plus water for boiling the carrots)
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or two teaspoons table salt)
1-2 bay leaves, crushed
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 dried red peppers
Make the Pickled Carrots
Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil. Immerse the carrots in the boiling water and simmer for one minute or until just tender. It’s important not to overcook the carrots, otherwise they’ll be mushy rather than crisp. Drain the carrots and set aside.
In the same saucepan, combine the apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes and whole cloves. Heat over medium heat until it begins to boil; remove from heat.
Meanwhile, pack the carrots into two pint-sized jars (or one quart-sized jar). Tuck the garlic cloves and dried red peppers into the jars alongside the carrots. Pour the hot brine over the carrots, scraping into the jars any whole spices that remain in the pan. Screw on the lids and refrigerate for two to three days before eating. The carrots will keep for at least two months in the refrigerator, but be aware that they may become spicier as they continue to pickle.