Gourmet Veggie Mama

Adventures in Fermenting: Old-School Pickled Carrots

I decided to dip my toe into the world of fermented foods a couple weeks ago.


With a million tri-color carrots cropping up in our garden and heads upon heads of cabbage rolling in from our CSA, I decided to try my hand at pickled carrots and sauerkraut, both done in the old-school way (meaning pickled in their own brine instead of vinegar, and not heat-processed).

carrot jars

Why? I keep hearing about the benefits of fermented foods, and the lamented fact that they’re not a part of our diet like they once were. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, and the fermentation process can actually increase the vitamin content of many foods. (Here’s a great rundown of the benefits of fermentation from Homemade Mommy).

It just so happens, too, that fermentation is a delicious way to preserve your food! Although fermented foods do need to be refrigerated and won’t last as long as heat-processed canned goods, you still get a good couple of months out of them, and that’s all I really need — especially with summer’s bounty just around the corner. You can add the step of heat-processing these carrots (or other fermented foods) to make them shelf-stable, but that does have the drawback of destroying all the lovely probiotics you just added to your foods through the fermentation process.

The pickled carrots went over like gangbusters. They were easy to make, and they are tangy, salty and crunchy straight from the fridge.

pickled carrots

The sauerkraut… not so much. Let’s just say there was mold involved, but the compost pile was happy to take care of the failed product for us. So, onward and upward! I may try again soon, but for now I’ll stick with pickled carrots. This is such a great way to preserve carrots (especially when you have a million to use up at one time) and even add some nutritional benefit to them. Win-win!

Old-School Pickled Carrots
Recipe type: preserved food
  • 2 lbs carrots, trimmed of greens and scrubbed
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried hot chili
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  1. Split any carrots larger than your little finger in half or quarters lengthwise.
  2. Combine the salt, water, bay leaves and chili in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute or so, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Pack the carrots and the thyme sprig into a clean quart-size Mason jar and pour the cooled brine over them (you will have leftover brine).
  4. Pour the leftover brine into a plastic bag and seal it or tie it off. Push the bag into the jar so that the carrots are completely submerged in the brine. (This prevents the veggies from contacting air while fermenting, which will result in mold.)
  5. Put the jar into a cool, dark place for at least 3 days, and up to 2 weeks, depending on how tangy you want your carrots to be.*
  6. After fermentation is complete, remove the bag from the pickling jar. Screw the cap on the jar and store your new carrot pickles in the fridge.** Kept in the fridge, these pickles will last up to 6 months.
*I let mine ferment for 5 days, which I think is good for starters. Next time I might experiment with letting them go for longer, for tangier flavors, but I was too worried about treading the fine line between fermented and spoiled on this first attempt! **If you plan to heat-process the pickles, pour the brine into a clean pot and boil it. When it is cool, pour it back into the jar with the carrots and seal it, and then process it in a boiling-water canner for at least 15 minutes.


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8 Thoughts on “Adventures in Fermenting: Old-School Pickled Carrots

  1. My Mom will pickle anything … but I don’t think she’s ever done carrots. I’ll have to send her this!
    Jester Queen recently posted..Among the RocksMy Profile

  2. These look great, Lauren. We’re slowly finishing up the last of our pickles from the fall (which have kept an incredibly long time in the fridge, no complaints here). I had success pickling cucumbers, beets, and turnips. The yellow squash were not a hit as pickles, but they redeemed themselves in a pork slider dish. Reminds me to crack open the dilly beans I boiling water bath canned . . .

    But carrots–I’ve never tried them, so I will this year. Thanks!
    kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts.com recently posted..Slow Cooker Chicken (And Chick Pea) Tikka Masala (Food Bloggers Change My Life #2)My Profile

  3. Lindsey on March 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm said:

    Looks yummy! Fermented carrots are my favorite! I found the best way to ferment is in plain old fido jars (available at the Christmas tree Shoppe or the container store for a few bucks). It keeps the oxygen out but let’s the excess carbon dioxide out for a perfect ferment. There is a whole group of us who ferment this way on Facebook. Look up “fido fermentation”.

    • Ooh, now I am intrigued! Maybe my sauerkraut would fare better with a little less potential for user error involved… Thanks for stopping by!

  4. These look like something my kids would LOVE. May have to give this a try…I’m a little nervous about the fermenting though…never tried it before!
    Becky recently posted..Seed Starting…2013 EditionMy Profile

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  7. Love all of the colors of the carrots. My favorite thing about fresh farm produce is how unique and different everything is.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Heather @ In Her Chucks recently posted..DottieboxMy Profile

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