Thursday, February 18, 2010

CanJam Episode 2- Carrot Frenzy!

Our Carrot Top Bouquet!

February is for Carrots! Okay so it doesn't have the makings of a great slogan but around here we work with what we've got. And in Feb that's not a heck of a lot when it comes to fresh produce. However, locally grown carrots are still easy to find and relatively inexpensive. I should know, I've eaten so many of them this winter that I think I'm starting to turn orange!

So when the CanJam ingredient for Feb was announced Colette and I figured it was another no brainer- we've been pickling carrots for years and both love them. All was good until I spotted these lovelies at the local organic greengrocer and was seduced by the vibrant colours. Purple, light orange, deep orange and yellow carrots!

Never mind that they taste pretty much identical to the ones we already have, or that they cost 100% more than the local grown ones, all I could envision was those jewel tones gleaming from freshly canned jars. I located a recipe online for Calico pickles that called for carrots, cauliflower, pearl onions and green peppers. We drew the line at the peppers- we were already way outside our local produce plan ( the carrots while organic, came from California!) and we decided that we'd add more of the other veggies instead. Since the veggies were being cooked in the brine before canning we'd still be safe with the amount of vinegar called for in the original recipe.

I knew from eating them in the summer that purple carrots leach their colour when cooking but I was hoping we could reduce this effect by cooking them in separate pots and layering them in the jars. Plus anyone who's ever hand dyed easter eggs knows that vinegar is a mordant ( dye fixer) so I was hoping for similar effect with the carrots. To keep with the colour theme I also bought two colours of pearl onions, white and purple. There were also yellow pearl onions and I was sorely tempted but these were fast becoming the world's most expensive pickles so I restrained myself.

Pickled Calico Vegetables

Cooking Directions:
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6 cups cauliflowerets
2 cup peeled pickling onions
3 cups sliced carrots
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 quart vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoons dried hot pepper flakes ( we used a mix of cayenne and golden habanero from last year's garden)

Combine all vegetables and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cover with ice; let stand for 3 hours. Drain vegetables; rinse well.

Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and hot pepper flakes in large saucepan. Bring to boil; add vegetables and simmer 5 to 7 minutes.

Pack hot into jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Screw
on caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Adapted from

As mentioned, we decided to divide the brine and cook the purple carrots and onions separately. We ladled them into the jars first and added the remaining mixture on top. Almost immediately the colour began to diffuse through the entire jar until everything was pink! The lovely multi coloured carrots practically disappeared.

We opened a jar last night to sample and they are pretty tasty - a bit vinegary and quite spicy, especially the cauliflower. And absolutely bright pink! So we've decided to rename them. We have two possibilities but can't decide which holiday theme to go with. We did some food staging to see what suited them best- you be the judge!

Valentine Pickles

Easter Pickles


  1. I love the colors of the carrots! Wish we had such beauties here...

  2. Sadly, these multi coloured bundles came from California. I have seen the purple carrots grown locally, I bought them frequently from a local farmer last summer. I'm going to look for seeds for the different coloured versions for my garden this summer.

  3. Those look great, Heather & Colette! I haven't tried my pickled carrots yet, but I may have to open some this weekend to see what they're like...