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Pickling 101: A Quick and Easy Recipe for Perfectly Pickled Carrots

Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
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Last week when we received our CSA delivery from Farmbox LA, we were delighted to find a gorgeous bunch of purple heirloom carrots in the mix. Said carrots sat for a few days as we waited for inspiration for a recipe that would do them justice. It just seemed sort of sad to do something as mundane as steaming them considering how stunning their plum-colored exterior is contrasted against those outrageously bright orange insides. Not to mention their slightly sweeter flavor.

So we did what any modern food writer would do -- turn to Instagram. When we sent out the photo below, one of our dear friends, The Lush Chef, suggested a recipe from David Lebovitz, who has yet to let us down with his culinary know-how. His recipe for easy pickled carrots was not only simple to execute, but absolutely delicious.

Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
Now, many people are unnecessarily freaked out by pickling. (We were too. Regardless of the fun we've had with jam sessions and hot sauce-making, this was our first time pickling.) But honestly, it's the easiest thing to do, especially if you're going for a quick pickle, which lasts up to a month in the fridge. (You'll need some more fancy gear if you want to seal and sanitize your jars for longer preservation, but trust us, you want to eat these. Now.)

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Lebovitz got his recipe inspiration from Epicurious but made a few tweaks, including lowering the dose of pickling spices. (The original called for 1 1/2 tablespoons dill, fennel, or fennel seeds, but he lowered that to 1 1/2 teaspoons.) Because we didn't have fennel seed or anise (time to restock the ol' spice cupboard!), we opted for our own unique cocktail of whole caraway seed, dill seed, celery seed, and alum. We also chucked two whole peppercorns into the mix.

The one thing to note is that when you're using the purple carrots, the bringing mixture will turn a light pinkish/purple color. And once you taste these little guys, you'll be pickled pink too.

Here's how it's done:

Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist

1 pound (450 g) carrots, peeled
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) water
1 cup (280 ml) cider vinegar
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
2 garlic cloves, lightly-crushed
1/4 teaspoon each of whole dill seed, whole celery seed, whole caraway seed, and alum
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 bay leaves
2 peppercorns

1. Cut the carrots into stick approximately the size of your fourth finger. Bring a medium-sized pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. (Use a non-reactive pot.)

2. When the water boils, drop the carrots in and simmer for one minute. Pour into a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly.

3. In the same pot, heat the remaining ingredients. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.

4. Remove from heat and add the carrot sticks. Cool until room temperature, then put into jars and chill.

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Carrot sticks should be made at least one day in advance, and will keep for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

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