Spicy Carrot Pickles

Can I be honest?  The main reason why these spicy carrot pickles jumped to the front of the pickle queue is because the author of Canning for a New Generation wrote that the inspiration for them came from hearing about the spicy carrot pickles at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.  Peter and I went there once, we had a pastry or two, if I remember correctly, and that was right before getting ice cream nearby at another popular stop in the gastro.  If I cared about my health I would never return, but who can say no to a place filled with butter and cream and named after a combination of castro and gastronomy?   My sneaky plan is to make some of these pickles (phase 1 complete), try them after a few weeks, and then go back to Tartine, but this time for a sandwich and carrot pickle.

Spicy Carrot Pickles (adapted from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 4 pint jars of pickle)
2 pounds carrots, scrubbed and ends removed
4 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity) or 1 more cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
8 dried hot chiles, stem removed
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs oregano (original recipe called for 4 sprigs of thyme)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

To make the pickle:  Begin by preparing the carrots, peeling them if necessary (I didn’t), and cutting them to the right height to fit in the pint jars with at least an inch of headspace.  Also cut the carrots lengthwise so that the carrot sticks are no more than a half-inch thick.  Put the prepared carrots in some cold water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  To make the brine, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves with 1 cup water in a large pot and bring to a boil, simmering for 5 minutes.  Prepare the dried chiles, garlic, oregano, and black pepper to be put in the canning jars by making a pile of the four ingredients for each canning jar.  When the brine has finished simmering for 5 minutes, add the carrots, and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the carrots are crisp-tender.  Now it’s time to can!

To can the pickle:  Follow the detailed instructions for canning dilly beans with the following specifications.  After taking the glass pint jars out of the hot-water bath, fill each one with the combination of dried chiles, garlic, oregano, and black pepper.  Then use a slotted spoon to pack the carrots loosely in the jars.  This is the hardest part because the carrots are hot and keep falling over in the jars.  Put the slices onion in any nooks and crannies between the carrots, not packing things too tightly.  Finally, pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.  Process the pint jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes (the hot-water bath needs to be boiling for this amount of time).

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