I know, I know. I promised to post this last week, but then work got super busy, and I forgot! So a couple of weeks ago, I made some pickled beets (see here for recipe – I doubled the brine & spices) and Thai-style pickled carrots (see bottom of post). I haven’t opened them up yet, given that they’re usually best after they’ve sat for at least a month. I plan to bring a jar of each over to my parents’ for a taste test the weekend we put the Christmas tree up! I was inspired by a GINORMOUS canning pot my aunt gave me (it even dwarfs my dutch oven, which is pretty big – please forgive my dirty stovetop).
The first task with pickled beets is to cook them. My mom always used to boil them for about 45 minutes, then wait for them to cool, peel them, etc. So to save some time, I cooked them in the Instant Pot (10 minutes, NPR – in retrospect, they got a bit soft, I could probably have gotten away with 6-7 minutes). I peeled and chopped them, and put them in the fridge until the next day.
The next day, I prepped the brine, for which I had to run out to get sugar (I never have actual sugar in my house). Because what kind of French Canadian doesn’t know that beets are pickled in sweet brine? This one. That’s what kind. I didn’t want bits of spice in my jars, so I used tea filters to contain them. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, and one thing we have no shortage of in my house is tea filters, so off to the races we went. The nice thing about these particular filters is that they tie shut with a string, so I just tied the string to my pot handles!
Unfortunately, they didn’t have any wide-mouth pint jars at the store, but they did have two cases of these amazing pint-and-a-half jars, so I bought those. The batch I made (15 lbs of beets, roughly) filled 9 jars. I put a few thin wedges of onion in each jar, for additional flavor (plus, beet-brined onions are DELICIOUS).
I had a bit of extra brine, and I didn’t want to waste it – it smelled so good! I had to double the recipe for the amount I was prepping, so I chopped up a few onions and popped them into a pint jar with the leftover brine.
I know it sounds tedious, but the boiling water bath is NOT a step you want to skip. These got 30 minutes in the water, according to the recipe. The carrots got the same treatment. You can tell I was tired by this point, because although I washed my dutch oven and started the carrots right away, this is when I stopped taking pictures LOL I didn’t follow much of a recipe for the carrots, I had made those before.
I had bought fewer carrots than I had beets, so this recipe only made 7 pint-and-a-half jars (750mL). For thinner carrots, you don’t have to quarter them. Judge based on your pinky. The pieces should be about that thickness. Again, due to the amount of veg I had, I doubled the brine recipe. I will write the recipe as if I only had 5 lbs of carrots (should make 5 or 6 pint jars, ish). Now keep in mind, Thai chilies are HOT. So these carrots have a bit of a kick to them.
Thai-Style Pickled Carrots
5 lbs carrots, peeled, cut to the length of the jar, and quartered
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
Thai chilies, whole
lemongrass – one stalk for each jar
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
In a pot, boil water, vinegar and pickling salt. In each clean, sterilized jar, place 1 slice of onion. Pack each jar tightly with carrot sticks, one stalk of lemongrass, and 2-3 Thai chilies. Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1″ of headspace. Close jars fingertip tight and place in a boiling water bath. Process for 30 minutes. Let rest in water for 5 minutes, then remove to countertop. I usually place a dishtowel on the counter to prevent scorching.