February Can Jam: Pickled Carrots and Daikon

February 20, 2010(updated on August 30, 2021)

carrots and daikon

I don’t exactly know why I did it, but I waited until the very last minute to complete this February Can Jam challenge. Maybe it was indecision (I did have a hard time deciding what to make, and it didn’t help when other folks started posting all their lovely projects, tempting my attention in many directions). Maybe it was just a series of busy days (although, I’m not sure I can plead busy-ness, since there were multiple snow days this month, that slowed things down and left me with some long, lazy days).

Whatever the reason, I found myself staring down the deadline tonight and needed to make something that would meet the challenge criteria.

prepping the hot pack

I spent awhile skimming through cookbooks, looking to see if I could find a recipe that moved me. I found nothing that matched what I was craving (a slightly sweet, very puckery, mildly spicy garnishing pickle), so I took what I know about pickles and headed for the stove.

Here’s what I know about pickling vegetables. Always use a commercially produced vinegar that has the acidity printed on the label (5% is best). Vinegar can be diluted by half (but no more). Spices can be tweaked and added, depending on your tastebuds. However, the amounts of low-acid vegetables shouldn’t be altered, in order to keep the product safe. If you want to get a bit more product into the jar without compromising your seal, a hot pack (this is the packing method in which you add your vegetable to the brine and let it heat up a bit, instead of packing it raw or briefly blanched and then pouring the brine over top) is the way to go.

completed jars

So here’s what I did. I thinly sliced two daikon radishes and three carrots on a mandolin (I should have used one more carrot, that front jar isn’t as full as I’d like). Setting those aside, I brewed up a brine of white vinegar, water, sugar and a bunch of spices. I sipped the brine from a deep soup spoon three times in the process of making it, trying to find the right balance of sweet, tart and flavor. When I was satisfied with what was in the pot, I dropped in the slivered veg and stirred. Half a minute on the heat and then off. Using my trusty 1-cup measure, I scooped pickles and filled jars.

They taste pretty good now, but they’re fresh, young. Pickles such as these need a little time to mellow, so that the vinegar can smooth out and the sugar can lose its treacly edge. I’m looking forward to trying them again in a few weeks.

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Pickled Carrots and Daikon

Servings: 3 Pints


  • 3-4 fat carrots
  • 2 slim daikon radishes

For the Brine

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star anise flowers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of powdered ginger


  • Thinly slice the vegetables on a mandolin and set aside.
  • Combine the brine ingredients in a medium-sized, non-reactive pot (the one I used holds four quarts). Bring to a boil. Taste (do not inhale over the pot, the vinegar will make you cough) and adjust spices to please your palate. Add the sliced vegetables. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.
  • Fill prepared jars. Wipe rims and apply lids. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes (starting time after the pot has returned to a boil).

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39 thoughts on "February Can Jam: Pickled Carrots and Daikon"

  • That looks fabulous and makes we want to go get all the rest of the carrots out of the garden and get canning!

  • marisa! what a joy to see your post here this morning! i’m so happy you made it! (ok,i admit i was a bit worried when i left the computer at 11:30 last night and it still wasn’t in. i was like, “oh no, not marisa!”)

  • Frugal Fraulein, thank you! I can’t quite judge what the finished flavor will be, but I think they’re going to be good.

    Tigress, ha! I was pretty delighted to get it done myself!

  • Are those wide quart jars, Marisa? Last year I wanted to do quarts of pickles and applesauce, but my jars–which were tall–didn’t fit in my canner and barely fit in my tallest stock pot. I ended up with water everywhere as it simmered over the top. If wide jars exist, I need to find some!

  • I’ve made daikon refrigerator pickles with lots of red pepper and these sound delicious! I love the color contrast between the carrots and the daikon.

  • Ah, how many times must I learn not to breathe deeply over hot vinegar?

    I don’t make pickled foods very often because I don’t know what to do with it. What would you serve this recipe with? What dishes would it garnish?

  • Jen, those are actually just plain, old pint jars.

    Wes, I love the colors too.

    Anduin, every time I make pickles, I relearn that lesson. As far as what to serve these with, I’ll probably put them on sandwiches, chop them into tuna salad or eat them alongside a slow cooked piece of meat (to brighten up the flavors).

  • Maybe I will have to try pickling something other than my mother’s sweet pickles.
    Did you choose a winner for the maralade?

  • heh, so that’s why making pickles always makes me cough!

    Thanks for the clear guidelines on how to improvise with pickles. I knew those guidelines must exist. My family adores pickles and we’re going to (gasp) run out of dills before the cukes are in again. Maybe I’ll substitute these.

  • I do believe you have given me the new twist I have been seeking for the traditional “lunch box tuna sadwich”. My husband loves his tuna and he enjoys any spicey relish he can get his hands on.
    Not to metion, I have been given a bit of daikon radish seed. Now I know what they will used for.
    Thank you for sharing this. Now I best be off and rearrange my garden plan. I need to fit in those daikon radishes….

  • I was lucky enough to stumble across some adorable little local beets at the farmers market this morning, looks like I’ll be making pickles of my own while the hubby’s at work tomorrow! I may have to grab a daikon and some carrots to try your recipe too, it looks delish!

  • I love pickled anything so these would be wonderful. Must see if I can find a few things at the market to make these. I think I was supposed to be particpating in the Can Jam and it slipped my mind.

    One of my favorite canned items from the pantry right now is pickled cauliflower – I’ve been caramelizing it in a skillet with some onions & caraway seeds – MMMM. Must pickle 5 times as much this year.

  • Hey Marisa!

    So I made my beet pickles, and although they all started out submerged in brine, during canning some of them seem to have shifted and a few slices are poking up out of the brine, will they be ok, or should I chuck those jars in the fridge? My canning book says the pieces may darken, but doesn’t say anything about whether they’re save to eat or not.


  • Ooo.. these sound so tasty! I’ve done something similar with carrots only as a vegetarian sushi garnish to go with the typical pickled ginger. I must try this next time I get an abundance of carrots.

  • I just love your site. Your idea is brilliant. No one else does this. Your recipes are creative, innovative, and look delicious. I will be trying them. This one looks yummy – and I bet it is even good young… if you just used the daicon and asian pears, it would be immediately edible, I think… and yummerly with your pickling spice mix.
    I will be back!

  • hello! i am new to your site and am already finding plenty to get excited about…

    your carrot-daikon pickles are the perfect for me to put together as a party for my son’s first birthday celebration, as our colour theme is orange and white… it’s also an amazing use of local veggies that store well through this time of year…

    my question to you is I’d like to create enough to fill at least 20 pint jars… can I simply scale the recipe to do that? how many carrots (I plan to use use very large ones that will give large size discs) and daikon do you suggest?

    thanks for your input and for the recipe…

  • Renee, you’ll need a lot of carrots and radishes. I had 2 3/4 pounds of vegetables and I made just 5 pints (scale the rest of the recipe to go with 3 cups vinegar). If you’re making this for party favors, I recommend putting them in cup jars. Even then, you’ll need 5 1/2 pounds of vegetables to fill 20 cup jars.

  • Okay, so this was my first attempt at pickling, canning, etc. What I did was simply pour the veggies and liquid into the jars and my jars were definitely not full of veggies like yours. I still processed them but was wondering if they’d still be okay with lots of liquid to not so many pickles? I also had one jar that was only half full so I didn’t process that one, but can I put them in the fridge and just eat them? Thanks!

  • Sara, if you haven’t seen it already, I answered your question on the Food in Jars Facebook page. Go check it out there.

  • mmm. just made this recipe with a bunch of CSA red and purple radishes that were kicking around my fridge. i basically followed the recipe ( i halved it, because i didn’t have that many radishes) but also added 1/4tsp dried fennel! so tasty.
    my question is – im not big into using that much sugar. is the sugar part of the preserving process or can i cut the sugar for my next big batch and still have them keep ’till winter?

  • Daikon are in season in spades at the moment. Do you think I could use rice vinegar rather than white? It’s easier to find here in Japan.

  • I have a question. I received a copper pot (huge) for a Christmas present and this is the first year it is in use. I preserve jams alot, but I also do a lot of pickling. One of my favorites is giardiniera. Do you pickle in your copper pot? Is it recommended? Or do you use a normal sterling silver pot to do your pickling in?

    1. Do not pickle in your copper pot! You should only make jams and jellies in copper. The sugar in those sweet preserves is what keeps the acid in the fruit from negatively reacting with the copper. I use stainless steel for pickling.

  • Myself and also my partner were wondering regarding the topic. Nevertheless the thruth is certainly, you actually can not depend on details written in world-wide-web.

  • What was your final verdict on this recipe after it had aged a bit? We usually have a bit of both veggies come this time of year and I ALWAYS in the mood to do a bit of canning right about now. Plus I think these might make a nice christmas present for all my foodie lovin’ family (next year)!!

    Thank you.

  • I was so anxious to try these when I checked the book out of the library…they were way too salty (I’m not new to canning and I thought something looked wrong). Your recipe here is much different as it calls for water and a tablespoon less salt. Which is it???? I think the cookbook has the problem and I’ll try them this way.

    1. Molly, the recipe in the book does call for water. It’s in the narrative instructions, not in the ingredient list. You’ll find that all the pickling recipes in the book are like that. The salt in the book’s recipe should be right, but you’re welcome to reduce it slightly if it’s too salty for you when made with the water.

  • I know that my jars would not be as pretty but could I sub other veggies such as red pepper, sweet banana pepper instead of the Daikon? You may have answered this question already but there seems to be a lot of comments. Love your site!

  • I don’t have a mandolin, but am hoping using a food processor’s slicing blade will be thin enough? Also, can this be made with all carrots, or is daikon needed?