Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spicy Carrot Martini

My family is a two-cocktail family. That doesn’t mean we always stop at two, or that we think 2 o’clock is the right time to start, but when it’s cocktail hour, there are essentially two choices: brown or clear. We drink manhattans and martinis. On a hot summer day, when there’s guacamole around, we may make up a batch of margaritas, but for the most part we try not to mess around with too many mixers like tonic or coke or juice.

So it’s a little surprising that it took us so long to come up with the Spicy Carrot Martini.
I’ve been pickling for a few years now, and my go-to pickle of choice is definitely the spicy carrot. I like them almost as much for how they look in the jar as I do for their crisp, vinegary taste. I love the marigold shades or orange, how the tidy shapes of sliced carrot spears line up with the chilies. And they don’t shrink up in the jar, so how ever I manage to cram them in before I pour in the brine, is how they will stay all winter, waiting to be pulled out of the cupboard to join a plate of cured meats or accompany a honey crisp with cheddar. And now they will be summoned to dunk in a Spicy Carrot Martini.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Gin martini, hold the olives, add the carrot. And it’s great. It was my brother’s concept, and he has already tested it out on some friends—a crowd pleaser.

Below is my carrot recipe, but it also works well with other vegetables with a similar pH level, like green beans and asparagus. Today I made a batch with cauliflower and ghost chilies. I’m working on pumping up the spice level. We’ll see how successful I was in a few weeks.

Spicy Pickled Carrots
This recipe is adapted from a recipe for Pickled Okra that I found on Martha Stewart Living in 2007. Makes 8 pints.
5 # carrots
1 quart white vinegar
6 tablespoons pickling salt
3 cups water
Optional: fresh or dried chilies, dill, garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds
8 pint sized canning jars, lids and bands
  • Boil jars in a hot water bath to sterilize.
  • Wash, peel and slice carrots to a size that will fit efficiently into your jars.
  • Make the brine by bringing vinegar, salt and water to a boil.
  • Sterilize lids and bands by boiling them. Leave the lids in the hot water.
  • Remove the jars from the hot water bath, one at a time, and fill them with carrots. Stuff the carrots in as tight as you can—they’ll give a little once they cook. Repeat with all the jars until your carrots are gone.
  • Add optional flavorings.
  • Fill the jars with hot brine, leaving about a quarter inch of space at the top, and fit the jars with lids and bands
  • Return the jars to the water bath, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.
  • Store in the refrigerator
Pickling is a science. If you’d like to keep these in the cupboard through the winter, check out some resources like Iowa State University’s Making Pickles and Pickle Products or the National Center for Home Preservation to make sure you’re being safe.


Kathryn said...

To be honest I've never been too intrigued with pickled things. However, your photos are beautiful and serving ideas creative. I'm feeling the urge to follow your lead and design some harvest jars for myself. Have you ever tried onions?

pleasantcompany said...

I have tried onions, and I was very pleased with the results. I used the brine from Eugenia Bone's Cauliflower recipe in Well Preserved. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Josie Bouchier L.Ac., M.S., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM) said...

abby! you are officially my new favorite blogger -- this is wonderful stuff!

pleasantcompany said...

Thanks Josie! I've been enjoying watching your business unfold on Facebook. Nice work!

Josie Bouchier L.Ac., M.S., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM) said...

cool! thanks abby. check out my immortal palace blog if you haven't already:
: )