Pickled Carrots and a Quick Brine Recipe

pickled carrots

Back when I made the pickled asparagus, I ended up having some brine leftover after I filled the jars. Not wanting to be wasteful, I poured what remained into a quart jar and shoved it towards the back of the fridge, to use another day. Over the weekend, I finally put it to good use.

I trimmed and quartered a pound of carrots, blanched them briefly (for no more than 15 seconds, as I didn’t want them to lose their crunch) and packed them into a wide mouth quart jar. Then I brought the brine to a quick boil and poured it in on top of the carrots. Several days later, they are piquant and a little bit spicy (I tucked a long red pepper into the jar along with the carrots).

quart of carrots

I did not do a hot water process with these pickles and instead chose to keep them in the fridge. I did this for several reasons. The first is that it’s not advisable to use reboiled brine for shelf-safe pickles. Part of the reason that pickled vegetables are safe to eat after a hot water process is that the acidity of the vinegar keeps the nasty bacteria at bay. Regular canned vegetables, the ones that aren’t pickled, must be pressure canned to be safe. I knew that my leftover brine was plenty vinegary in terms of making my carrots taste amazing. However, I didn’t know whether the level of acidity was adequate in terms of keeping those carrots shelf-safe. So I decided to go the safe route, skip the water bath and opt for refrigeration as my means of preservation.

chopping carrots

Additionally, sometimes I just want to make pickles, without hauling out a canning pot. Making a single jar with some leftover brine means that I can do just that. It took all of ten minutes to make those pickled carrots and now I have something delicious to go with soup, a sandwich, salad or just munched alone (and since the pickled asparagus I made a few weeks back is long gone) for the next week or so.

For those of you who don’t have some extra brine sitting around your fridge, here’s a quick formula for making a small batch of brine, so that you can make just one or two jars of pickles at a time.

I know it reads like a lot of steps to follow, but really, it takes no time. So go pickle something already.

Small-Batch Pickling Brine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (make sure it’s commercial vinegar that is at least 5% acidity)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt (or 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt)
  • A palmful (each) of at least a few of the following:
  • crushed bay leaves
  • peppercorns
  • hot pepper flakes
  • allspice berries
  • coriander seeds
  • whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Pour the water, vinegar, salt and spices into a small saucepan. As it comes to a boil, pack your veggies into a freshly washed jar (one pound of trimmed and quartered carrots fits nearly perfectly into a wide-mouth quart-sized jar). You can also tuck a slice of lemon, a hot pepper or a garlic clove into the jar as well.
  2. When the brine is boiling, pour it into the veggie-packed jar, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Make sure to run a butter knife around inside the jar, to release any air bubbles trapped behind the vegetables (this isn’t as important in this case as it is when you’re doing a hot water bath, but it’s a good habit to get into anyway).
  3. Gently screw a two-part canning lid on the jar (making sure to protect your hands with a towel or potholder) and let it sit until it’s cooled down. The lid may seal during the cooling process. However, this does not mean it’s safe to store it at room temperature indefinitely. Once the jar is fairly cool, it should still go in the fridge. Let them chill out in the brine for at least 2-3 days before you dig in.
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46 Responses to Pickled Carrots and a Quick Brine Recipe

  1. 1
    andipantz says:

    I LOVE pickled carrots! By far, my favorite pickled thing EVER!

    Andi, they are seriously delicious! You should make some. -Marisa

  2. 2
    Kalyn says:

    Okay, I’m definitely going to make this. Saving the recipe to del.icio.us right now.

  3. 3
    Michele says:

    This looks so appealing. I’ve never canned anything before, but I think I might adapt your method to mimic a dish that the Russians call “Korean carrot salad” (though I’ve never seen anything like it in Korean cooking). I’ll just sweeten the vinegar a little bit, up the spice, and throw in a few garlic cloves, too. (Presumably the vinegar will ward off garlic-botulism?)

  4. 4
    yoko says:

    I also love pickled carrots!

    I have to admit, the whole concept of shelf-stability is what has made me skittish about canning. Your explanation about what processes work is very helpful, and I hope you’ll expand upon this in future posts.

  5. 5

    Wow, I just stumbled onto your site through Twitter. I feel like it’s Christmas! Your pictures are luscious and the articles are divine. Thank you! I’m bookmarking your site directly…

  6. 6
    pam says:

    How long can leftover brine stay in the fridge. I’ve almost finished up some pickled radishes.

  7. 7
    Tina says:

    Yum. As carrots are one of the cheapest things we get weekly, I will be giving this a shot!

  8. 8
    Bird says:

    Looking fwd to meeting these pickles again as I tasted them the day after you made them and can imagine with some sitting they’re even better, if that’s possible:)

  9. 9
    Wendi says:

    I discovered pickled carrots after reading Molly Wizenburg’s book. Delightful. I’ve wondered if it’s ok to use leftover brine later. Thanks for the info.

    • 9.1
      Marisa says:

      Wendi, I think it’s okay to use leftover brine as long as you’re making refrigerator pickles with it. I wouldn’t trust it if you wanted to hot process those pickles for room temp. storage.

  10. 10
    Carolyn says:

    Just made a pint of these and a pint of cuke slices with the small-batch brine. Can’t wait to try them!

  11. 11
    Marisa says:

    Oops, I just realized I never answered Pam’s question about leftover brine in the fridge. I’ve found that it lasts at least a month. The rule of thumb is to discard it if it begins to look cloudy or discolored.

    And when I mean leftover brine, I’m not talking about used brine that has been emptied of its veggies. I’m talking about brine that was extra when making a larger batch of pickles. So it’s excess, used brine.

  12. 12

    […] Pickled carrots. Thanks you Marisa for the good idea. We are harvesting carrots at the moment, so that’s a great – and new to me – use of them. […]

  13. 13

    […] So while I was talking on the phone the sous chef picked up the lead and cut up the carrots and got the carrot brine and the Scandinavian Cookbook brine all mixed up and ready to go.  By the time I got off the phone the jars were ready to go and we packed the carrots in and topped it with the brine.  We almost forgot the garlic and so its a little on the out of the water side.  We will just flip the jars daily for a bit and hope it works out :) Oh the carrot brine recipe!!! Here it is!  […]

  14. 14

    […] made pickled carrots once before this summer- 4 jars of them. I used this recipe from the blog Food in Jars the first time. They were the most amazing thing we have had in awhile. Spicy, salty, crunchy… and they are […]

  15. 15

    […] instead of making pickled carrots I had a saner moment (thank you Marissa, yet again) when I found Food In Jars (if I’m remembering names correctly, by the same person who brought me our favorite beet […]

  16. 16
    valerie says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog :) Love it!

  17. 17

    […] ways. A friend sent me the link to this recipe on this great site dedicating to preserving: Food in Jars……definitely worth checking out if you want more info and detail on pickling […]

  18. 18

    […] ways. A friend sent me the link to this recipe on this great site dedicated to preserving: Food in Jars……definitely worth checking out if you want more info and detail on pickling […]

  19. 19

    […] Making pickled peppers is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them before. I know I have. Case in point: Bobby Flay’s pickled jalapeños. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is always thinking outside the box. I love to take out his Mesa Grill Cookbook and just thumb through it for something creative to try. I wanted to make some fruit salsa, and as part of fruit salsa he made pickled jalapenos.  This just sounded too intriguing to pass up. I had no choice- I had to make them. And, I decided to add pickled carrots – the kind you get at taco stands – so yummy when treated with a boiling brine. […]

  20. 20
    Diana says:

    How long after pickling asparagus can we eat it

  21. 21

    […] more complex instructions online, so check those out too including this sharp looking blog called food in jars. Sanitization is paramount, and I there is still much for me to learn about all of this. I plan to […]

  22. 22
    Danielle says:

    Hello-Can you tell me if I need to trim the veggie to be pickled down bellow the brine line? In the past I have trimmed them down, but I notice that yours stick up in the pictures. Can I leave them like that for shelf stable pickling?
    Thanks! And of course I love your blog. blah blah blah :) d

  23. 23
    Marisa says:

    Danielle, when I make pickles for canning, I do trim the veg down so that it will be completely submerged. I you read this post, you’ll not that these were refrigerator pickles, meaning I was just making a small amount to keep in the fridge for fairly immediate consumption.

  24. 24
    Ellen says:

    My mom used to put sliced carrots into leftover dill pickle brine whenever we ended a jar of dill pickles. (Likely her own homemade pickles, too.) We just kept them in the fridge and nibbled on them.

  25. 25

    […] If you’d like the recipe that I used it can be found at this site, Food in Jars. […]

  26. 26
    Michael says:

    Hi Marisa –

    Love the site! I’m new to canning, and have a few questions regarding pickling. From my garden I have carrots, zucchini, squash, onions, cucumber and beans, all of which I’d like to pickle for future enjoyment.

    I’m not sure I understand the best means of preservation for pickling. Is there a difference between water bath, and the hot-water process? Which one is shelf safe, and for how long is it safe for on the shelf (unopened)? Also, can I mix and match these veggies?

    I know that was a lot of questions, and thanks in advance! If you have any specific “beginners” posts you can point me to that would also be great!

    Regards,
    Michael.

  27. 27
    kristen says:

    wondering if i were to hot water bath process this recipe how long you would recommend processing for pint sized jars. thanks.

  28. 28
    Elisabeth says:

    I just made these with Indian-inspired seasonings: a clove of garlic, some fresh ginger, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and some cardamom pods. Came out great, though next time I’ll only use 2-3 cardamom pods instead of 6-8.

  29. 29

    […] The recipe that I ended up adapting is for refrigerator pickled carrots – no processing in a boiling water bath for these bad boys. They are not shelf stable but will last for a month in the fridge. Pickled Carrots […]

  30. 30

    […] Recipe adapted from Food in Jars. […]

  31. 31

    […] more complex instructions online, so check those out too including this sharp looking blog called food in jars. Sanitization is paramount, and I there is still much for me to learn about all of this. I plan to […]

  32. 32

    […] big group of strangers, at Marben. – I made my first ever pickles! I made some bread-and-butter-ish pickled carrots for the fridge. – Really was not motivated to focus on school at all. I am disinterested in most of […]

  33. 33

    […] can try your hand at pickling the carrots, radishes and beets with this simple refrigerator pickle recipe from Food in […]

  34. 34
    Amy says:

    I’m a newbie, so I’ve been lurking (obsessively) on several canning blogs before dipping my toe into the water bath. I’m curious about pH. Why not just check it before processing to make sure it’s low enough?

  35. 35

    […]   I bought some asparagus and carrots, with the thoughts of trying a couple of recipes from Food in Jars.  I like this author because she provides the basic recipe.   The vinegar/water ratios are the […]

  36. 36

    […] Pickled carrots – […]

  37. 37
    Sequoia says:

    I’m a beginner when it comes to pickling, and all preserving for that matter, and I was just wondering if you have to blanch the carrots, and, if so, why? Also, the few times I’ve refrigerator pickled before I’ve always let the brine cool so as not to crack the jar, do you have a specific reason for pouring it in quick?
    Thanks!

  38. 38
    Barb says:

    Just made a beautiful batch for Christmas gifts. I added sliced hot red peppers and some garlic. Looks beautiful! I think I maybe making more of these!! Thanks for the recipe! How long do they keep in the fridge?

  39. 39

    […] Pickled 2 jars of carrots, using Marissa McClellan’s recipe from my favorite cookbook/blog, “Food in […]

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Jody says:

    I have been wanting to experiment with beer brining. I thought carrots would be a good this subject this time of year. If I wanted a shelf safe product, how might I work beer into the recipe? Have you tried beer brining?

  42. 42

    […] a quick pickle (a.k.a. refrigerator pickle), Marisa McClellan shares her recipe for Pickled Carrots on her blog Food in […]

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Sharon Drummond says:

    I had a bit of brine leftover after making Gingery Pickled Beets (from the Food in Jars book), and so I used it to make a jar of pickled carrots. The gingery brine is to die for with slim carrot sticks! Yum!

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