My goal with this food-blog challenge – as regular readers already know – is to learn about how to preserve food. This is a skill that is rapidly leaving most American households and as we enter the second (third?) year of the Great Recession, it strikes me that preserving food might indeed be a useful skill. As a dedicated localvore and seasonal eater, this also makes sense to me: preserve the bounty while it is at its peak and enjoy it year ’round.
So come learn with me while I take the can challenge.
If you want to play along at home, you must read the Tigress’ instructions on canning before you begin.
Everyone loves carrots: from your first taste of stewed carrots as a tiny tot to a surly teenager, carrots are probably the only vegetable that you never rejected; everyone loves carrots. I love the crispness of a carrot, the sweetness. It is one of the perfect foods, giving you texture, flavor, and sound. There’s so much there to love in a carrot. Carrots travel the range from savory stews, to crunchy salads, and to sweet (and usually cream-cheese enhanced) carrot cake. Is there anything carrots cannot do?
Recently, I posted the pickled carrots’ recipe for the Super Bowl Bloody Mary, which featured my favorite refrigerator pickled carrots. What I wanted to do was try to get the same sort of flavor and texture in a properly canned pickled carrot. I think it turned out pretty well.
I forgot to note in the instructions above that I only made 2 half-pint jars (that’s all I had on hand), hence the two bay leaves and the two cloves of garlic. I had some left over carrots, but they were disposed of with lunch.
OK, so how did it turn out and what would I do differently next time?
- I used a stronger concentration of vinegar to water, as recommended by the National Center for Home Preservation. Carrots are a low acid food, so you don’t want to screw around with the vinegar here. Yes, it changed the flavor from the ‘fridge pickled carrots, it is different and pretty nice, actually.
- I did not think about the size of my jars, so these are little guys and will not be much good in Bloody Marys. That said, they are pretty wonderful on the side with sandwiches and they are truly inspired with barbecue. I’m talking pulled pork. Them’s good eats.
- Because I wanted to maintain the crispness, I made more or less matchsticks of the carrots, and barely cooked them. Again, this was a safety issue – they had to be cooked before they could be canned, so making them very thin ensured both crispness and being cooked through. I could have (and probably should have) made them into rings. I was fixated in my mind on those Bloody Marys. But it was also a good practice for knife skills: match stick carrots are a challenge.
- I’m quite pleased to report that 100% of my jars sealed. I paid attention to the headspace issue that I mentioned previously. It was very satisfying to hear the clack noise that the lids made as the vacuum sealed the jars.