For the February Can Jam event brilliantly organized by Tigress in a Jam, I was inspired by a carrot salad that I make in the summer – carrot ribbons cured in lemon juice, spritzed with toasted sesame oil and tossed with toasted black sesame seeds. I call it a tiger lily salad because of its resemblance to the flower. Decorated with actual tiger lilies, it makes a stunning side dish on a buffet. Glam and refreshing.
The sub-title of this canning adventure could be called “This Way That Way.” It’s dangerous to leave me cooped up indoors with a bagful of anything that can be cooked. Once I figured out the base of this pickle (see below), I played with the seasonings and the cut of the vegetables, starting with the julienne suggested in the master recipe, moving to the standard round slice, experimenting with shredding, and finally landing on the winner – long ribbons of carrots.
I’m addicted to those slices of carrots and daikon radishes found on the salad buffet in Japanese restaurants. That would be a pickle I would pull out of the pantry and eat, especially since we try to avoid excess salt. When I make these pickles at home, I use rice vinegar and mirin, so even though the rice vinegar that I have in the cupboard is over 5% acidity, I checked to see if the FDA would approve of using it for water bath canning. Nope. Disappointed, I went to Plan B and started researching a suitable base for carrots and fennel, a different adventure.
And there, in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, is a recipe they call Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle. Back to the original plan! They use white vinegar and plentiful white sugar, plus grated ginger and an optional piece of star anise. I tested the base with the vegetables and it was delicious. Since the authors added the star anise to the jar before processing, I couldn’t tell how it would alter the delicious pickles, so I made a test batch and canned one jar, setting it aside for a week. My advice is to go easy on the anise, but it was good.
Because I wanted to put up different cuts of carrots, I made an entire recipe of the base (dissolving the sugar in the water before adding vinegar) and divided it for the separate batches, all to keep the vinegar from dissipating with too much heat. From the basic recipe, I decreased the sugar a little but in retrospect, it was probably about right. I also increased the amount of ginger just a little. Both a matter of taste.
Because I didn’t want to add ginger to the carrot ribbons, I cooked them first, tossed them with sesame oil and toasted black sesame seeds and jarred them. I then added grated ginger to the base. Grating it allowed the flavor to come through quickly and strong. The jars with shredded carrot and daikon have ginger, sesame oil and sesame seeds. I can’t wait to spoon them over the top of a tuna steak or burger.
The julienned vegetables won the star anise, shining through the side of the jar like a jewel. The slices were canned with only the base. I used one of my favorite low-tech kitchen gadgets – child chopsticks – to place the vegetables in the jar. Children’s chopsticks are joined at one end and are like long tweezers. One of the daikon radishes, a recent purchase, was huge and a single slice was just about the diameter of the jar. The other radish and the carrots were local, including a few left over from the end-of-season at our CSA farm.
A final note. I was comfortable canning this range of jars — half-pint, 12-ounce and pint – together since the cooking time of ten minutes after the water resumes boiling is the same for all three. I wrote separate recipes for the carrots versus the carrots and daikon since, despite the same base, I didn’t want this to seem complicated. It wasn’t.
Tiger Lily Carrot Pickles with Sesame (2 pint jars)
6 large carrots, about 1 lb
1 ½ cups white vinegar
1 ½ cups water
2/3 – ¾ cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
Prepare the jars for water bath canning. Prepare the carrots: slice them into thin vertical ribbons the whole length of the carrot using a straight-end vegetable peeler.
Prepare the pickling liquid. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a large shallow pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the carrots and cook for about 1 minute (until the water returns to a boil, being careful not to overcook). Strain the carrot ribbons, reserving the liquid, place in a bowl and add the sesame oil and seeds.
Place the carrots in hot jars and pour on the reserved pickling liquid. Remove air bubbles (put a dinner knife into the jar, being careful not to cut the ribbons) and adjust headspace, leaving ½ inch clear. Wipe the rims, add the flat lid (previously dunked in boiling water) and screw on the band. Process in boiling water for ten minutes (after the water comes to a boil), let sit for 5, then remove to the counter to cool.
Carrot and Daikon Pickles with Ginger and a Sesame Variation (for 2-3 half pints and 2-3 12 oz jars) Adapted from Kingry and Devine’s Complete Book of Home Preserving
2 lbs carrots, more or less
1 daikon radish, more or less
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1/13-1/12 cup granulated white sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
Star anise (optional)
Toasted sesame oil and black sesame seeds (optional, see variation below) *
Prepare the jars for water bath canning. Prepare the carrots and daikon: lightly peel the vegetables, julienne them into sticks 1/8 to ¼ inch x 1 ½ inches OR slice them into rounds 1/16-1/8 inch thick OR grate them lengthwise into thin strips. Combine the carrot and radish. If using more than one cut, set each aside to cook in batches.
Prepare the pickling liquid. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and grated ginger in a large shallow pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the carrots and cook for about 1 minute until the water returns to a boil, being careful not to overcook.**
Place the carrots in hot jars and pour on the reserved pickling liquid, adding the optional star anise if using. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, leaving ½ inch clear. Wipe the rims, add the flat lid (previously dunked in boiling water) and screw on the band. Process in boiling water for ten minutes (after the water comes to a boil), let sit for 5, then remove to the counter to cool.
*Sesame option: After the carrots are cooked, drain them, reserving the pickling liquid, remove them to a bowl and sprinkle with sesame oil (approximately 1 tsp per pint) and sesame seeds (approximately 2 tsp per pint).
**Multiple batch option: If cooking more than one type of cut from the same batch of base, first dissolve the sugar in the water, add the vinegar and ginger and divide the base into the number of batches. This keeps the vinegar from losing its strength batch to batch.