Yup, that is what my friend’s facebook status said. “Huh? What’s up with carrots??” The answer to that? “Carrots. Can Jam. Whatdya think?” I knew Briggs was right, but… carrots? Really? Carrots?!? Nervously, I had to double (& triple) check.
Carrots challenged me. It’s not that I dislike carrots…I just don’t adore carrots. (Exception being a heavenly pot roast). I like munching on them sporadically. I enjoy them as a vehicle for getting many dips to my mouth. But if I’m going to can something, I want awesome-ness. What to make?
I needed it spicy and pickled. And versatile. I adapted a recipe I found at Knit Tidbits and here. I chose this recipe because 1). carrots & lots of them, 2). she said she used it (drained) on cream cheese and crackers…which I LOVE doing with hot pepper jelly & thought this sounded rockin’, 3). I could imagine them as a taco topping, and 4). I envisioned the final product on a Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich.
Carrots are a low-acid food and thus need some special TLC when attempting to hot water bath process them. Unless you are fond of botulism, which I will assume you are NOT. This is a tough one to ponder for a compulsive recipe-tinkerer like myself. Carrots demand a level of precision. Shudder!
So, a lot of googling, searching, reading later, I finalized my plan for the carrots. The bottom line in pickling is that you can modify spices & sugar, but you can not change the basic amount of veggies or vinegar. That ratio must stay the same.
The original recipe below, with my adaptations in bold and ( )’s. I don’t like green peppers and wanted it spicy, so I substituted them providing roughly an equal amount of hot, spicy & sweet peppers. I decreased the red peppers because I added some cabbage in about the same amount.
Spicy Carrot Relish/Slaw
4 green peppers (I used 1 big poblano, 5 or 6 jalapenos and 6 smaller sweet peppers)
4 red peppers (I used 2 red peppers & 1/2 head green cabbage)
1/2 cup salt (pickling salt)
3 cups sugar
6 cups vinegar (must be 5% acidity)
2 T mustard seed (I used brown mustard seeds)
2 T celery seed
2 T coriander seeds
•Grate carrots in food processor.
•Seed and thinly slice all peppers. Gloves. Wear Gloves. Really. Thinly slice onions & cabbage. Mix together with salt in a large bowl.
•Drain vegetables. There will be a lot of fluid. Put remaining ingredients into a large pot, and add vegetables.
•Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Check to make sure jars have completely sealed. Yield: 8 pints-ish (*I need to get more jars. I’m out. So I yielded 1 pint and 10 half pints and 1 giant jar for the fridge)
Word of warning: If you open a jar and it is in a funk, or looks ‘off’, or is in any way deemed questionable…just don’t eat it. No one needs to die over pickled goods.
Lessons from the Jam: Edition 2
I think that recipes for pickling low acid food should probably have key ingredients in actual measurements than quantity. Think cups, grams, ounces, etc. Something measurable. The size of a carrot/pepper can vary significantly from one to the next. To be safe I chose organic produce that seemed average size. Nothing too small or too big. Envision Goldilocks. Just right.
Hopefully that did the trick!
I tasted this on a spicy oven-fried chicken sandwich and the flavor combination was amazing. I did, however, realize that if you want fried chicken you should actually fry your chicken and not bake it. It just isn’t the same.
I had this (drained) on crackers with cream cheese and it was deliciously & problematically addictive.
I can’t wait to try it on a pulled pork or barbeque pork/chicken sandwich!
Carrots= Success! When I make this again I might spice it up a bit more. I’ll decrease the red peppers and add more jalapenos (or a hotter pepper) and keep the small sweet peppers. The spicy-sweet was fantastic.