Given The Boy's heritage, I suppose it's only understandable that he and the kosher dill pickle have a near-symbiotic relationship (one which is only surpassed by chicken soup with square noodles, it seems).
So it should have been no surprise when the other day, out of the blue, he asks me "Is it easy to make pickles?" The discussion that followed led us to the conclusion that our lives were sadly lacking in homemade pickled goodies and that we clearly needed to do something to address this situation, which is what brings us together today, gentle reader.
You see, it IS easy to make pickles. Ridiculously easy. Especially when you use a vegetable like the humble carrot - which has the benefit of being easily purchased from your local grocery store year-round for a pittance, along with all of the other ingredients you will need for this experiment.
I have to admit that there's something downright appealing about the bright orange bias-cut pieces of carrot, floating in their golden brine with motes of mustard seed and peppercorn. They're also infinitely more elegant than their cucumber counterparts, those stubbled grey-green gherkins The Boy has such an affinity for. As pretty as they are, they're so easy to make and so tasty to eat that I won't feel much guilt about finishing off this batch - it'll just make room in the fridge for our next pickling experiment, after all.
Spicy Pickled Carrots
2 bunches carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 small onion, cut into thin vertical slices
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried chilies
10 whole peppercorns
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili flakes
First of all, do yourself a favour and buy the nice carrots. The ones that come in a pretty bunch, with their wispy green tops still attached. The carrots that come in a bag are all well and good when it comes to soups and stews, but this is all about the carrots. If you really must ignore this advice, do us both a favour and settle for baby carrots at the very least.
Layer the carrots, garlic, onions, hot peppers and peppercorns in a clean 1-litre glass jar (we re-used an old pickle jar for this purpose... it seemed poetic, somehow).
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt and chili flakes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Immediately pour over the carrots.
Set aside to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, cover with lid and refrigerate.
Now the hardest part of all... Wait at least two days before cracking open the jar to enjoy the fruit of your labours.