Why did I eat half a pound of carrots before tearing myself away from the refrigerator? It is not a Vitamin A deficiency. Nor was I hungry. It was this magic “pickled” carrot recipe with drugs in the ingredients – just kidding, of course, about that last part. I am not kidding about the magic part.
These carrots aren’t exactly pickled. I suppose they could be if the water-to-vinegar ratio was double-checked for optimum bacteria inhibition, and of course if all canning and preserving steps were followed. But there’s no point in actually canning these if they’re eaten in under a week (ahem, sometimes under 4 days). Anyway, they should keep for 4 weeks refrigerated – provided they last that long.
I first tasted these crunchy, addicting snackies during a University of Gastronomic Sciences potluck dinner. A jar of carrot sticks amidst homemade quince tart, cinnamon sticky bread, cheesy focaccia, and endive leaves filled with oniony salsa – who had time for carrot sticks? But all it took was two or three unsuspecting students to reach into the jar, get hooked, and munch through 2/3 of the supplies before they kindly, reluctantly, let me in on the secret. I tried two, glanced the other way, and the carrots were gone. My friend told me they were simple to make: “Just blanch the carrots and soak them in boiled water with vinegar for a while. And I add some sugar and spices.” How long do you soak them? What spices? How much sugar? I wanted to know. My friend shrugged.
Four months later, I googled “pickled carrots” and then created my own recipe based on a mix of the ones I saw. My friend’s casually imprecise directions are pretty much the whole idea behind making these, because if you’re not pickling them, just loosely follow these instructions with your ingredients at hand or of choice. There’s little reason to actually be precise. Here it is.