Carrots in a brine (pickles)
This is a gateway ferment - fast, lightly soured, and easy to eat. The carrots stay a very bright orange - and they are ultra-healthy in a lunch box - and I believe they act as a 'keep fresh' encouragement in the box. When I make them for myself, I cut them in rounds and with all kinds of spices - ginger, curry, spicy, whatever I have on hand. You don't need to do a huge jar - even just filling a 350g jar up works. Slicing in rounds makes them easy to snack on in front of this computer, or in front of the TV. Cutting them into sticks are great - wider sticks into planks for dipping. Our kids seem to love that.
If you are doing this for a fussy eater, only ferment them for a couple of days, until only slightly sour and then build it up to a full 5 days of souring. When they are ready they need to go into the fridge otherwise they'll keep fermenting.
I am so organised when I have these on hand for the many many bento boxes and long drives we make and take. (5 teens in the house). Don't judge my love of a good lunch box - I really got into the joy of taking time to make balanced, visually appealing lunches when I was a nanny in Japan - a high-pressure situation. Before that it was vegemite sandwiches... actually, there used to be a beetroot and cheese sandwich, sometimes a fritz and cheese with sauce..... those are still good.
Ingredients and Equipment
- 1 litre jar (or larger of course)
- Knives and chopping boards etc.
- Weight of some kind - a clean non porous rock or baking weights could do
- Lid - an air lock is great but this is a short ferment and doesn't need long, just a burp a day.
- Carrots - all colours and shapes but as fresh and natural as possible. Don't buy those bags of mini snacking style 'baby carrots' as they are usually just beaten up large carrots..! you could also do this with beans and cauliflower or onions - broad beans, whole corn.. more in my book
- approx. 3 Tablespoons of fine sea salt - you'll want to use a ratio of 3% of salt to the water you have depending on the size of the jar and the brine you'll need.
- 1 litre plus (depending on the size of your jar) of good clean water - rain water is great, spring is good, filtered is next - tap will do.
- herbs and spices you have at hand - for carrots we like: black peppercorns, mustard seeds, thyme but you can make up your own combinations of flavours depending on the vegies you are brining.
- Make a brine of 1 litre of water and 3 Tablespoons of salt by simply stirring until dissolved. I like to do this in a measuring jug as you don't use a litre of water when the jar is full, but it's easier to measure like this. After a while you'll get used to the flavour of salt to water/amounts and just start adding straight to the jar.
- Peel and cut carrots depending on how you imagine eating them - try and keep them all around the same size so they ferment at the same speed.
- Fill your jar with carrots and then a few extra things for flavour. eg. You could put a twig of thyme or dill, some celery seeds or coriander seeds, some ginger or a birds eye chilli too. Not too much -subtle is best IMO.
- Pour brine over the top to cover the vegetables.
- Weigh them down to keep them under the brine with fermentation weights, or even pie weights in a zip-lock bag, or fill a ziplock bag with the remaining brine and use that as a weight too - works really well.
- Seal your jar. It's good if air can escape though an airlock, but otherwise just burp the jar by opening and closing the lid as needed, probably daily.
- Taste as you go, maybe after the second day depending on the temperature. They should be ready in 4-7 days. When you think they taste perfectly sour and flavourful, pop them in the fridge.
- We usually start eating them on day 4 and finish the jar off before fridge time anyway.
Just in case...
Sometimes a white film can form on the top of the brine... it's quite pretty really. That's just Kahm yeast.... it forms when exposed to oxygen.. it's not poison but it can make things a bit slimy and no-one wants that. So get them in the fridge lickety split, and if the brine goes down as you eat them, you might need to pour some more in. Just make a bit more up in another jar. Once you get into it, you can just eat them all and add more carrots to the existing brine. True. x