I love pickled and fermented foods. Carrots are some of my favorite foods to both pickle and ferment. There does seem to be some confusion when it comes to fermentation versus pickled foods. Did you know that not all fermented foods are pickled and not all pickled foods are fermented?
Foods that are pickled use an acidic medium, like vinegar. Pickled vegetables are not fermented and do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of homemade fermented vegetables. But don't ignore them. They can be simple, delicious and healthy to eat your veggies.
Vegetables that you ferment typically use salt, and some filtered water for preserving, creating an acidic liquid that is a by-product of the fermentation process. This fermentation provides you with beneficial probiotics and enzymes without the cost of supplements. Homemade fermented veggies are both fermented and pickled. Fermentation takes a little more time and a bit of a watchful eye. The results are well worth the effort. Don't be afraid to give it a try.
I grew up with fermented foods. My process is based on the way generations of Appalachian Mountain folks have successfully fermented food. No special equipment is required. I don't use whey starters, but I do use a longer fermentation time. I love having jars of fermented veggies and kraut to munch on.
Here are two recipes for carrots. The first is a Pickled Country Carrots recipe. The second is a Simple Fermented Carrot Sticks recipe. I encourage you to try them both and enjoy.
Pickled Country Carrots
1 pound of small organic carrots (scrubbed, ends trimmed off but DO NOT PEEL)
1 cup of water
1 1/2 cups of real Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup local honey
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 tablespoon mustard seeds
3/4 tablespoon fennel seeds
3/4 tablespoon black peppercorns
3/4 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
1 dried hot chili pepper
1. Blanch carrots for 2 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Quickly drain and place carrots in a large bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside
2. In a pan, bring the water, vinegar, honey and salt to a gentle boil. Remove from heat
3. Pack a sterilized 1 quart mason jar with the carrots
4. Place remaining ingredients in pan containing the water and vinegar blend. Pour hot brine over carrots until just covered. Seal jar and refrigerate overnight. ENJOY
Simple Fermented Carrot Sticks
1 1/2 pounds of fresh carrots, trimmed
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups of water, or more as needed
2 tablespoons of REAL sea salt
one large outer cabbage leaf
- Make brine by dissolving the sea salt in slightly warm water. Let brine cool to room temperature before using.
- Place peeled garlic cloves in the bottom of a quart jar. Cut carrots into quarters lengthwise to the height of the just about a 1 below the bottom ring of the jar
- Place carrot sticks on top of the garlic cloves. Pack them in so they are snug, but do not over-pack. Make sure that the brine can still penetrate the carrots.
- Pour the 2 cups of brine over the carrot sticks until they are completely covered. Leave about 1″ or so headspace between the brine and the lip of the jar. You can add more water, if needed.
- Place the hefty outer cabbage leaf over the carrot sticks and tuck it in to the sides as tightly between the carrots and the jar as you can. Keeping your carrots submerged with this cabbage leaf is one of the most critical part of the process.
- Place the lid on the jar and close tightly. If using an airlock system place that on the lid according to the directions on the package.
- Place at a cool room temperature, 65-80 being ideal, and allow to culture for 7-10 days or longer, as desired. You can also leave it at room temperature for a few days and then move to a cooler temperature (not refrigeration) of 45-60 degrees to complete the fermentation process over the course of several weeks for better flavor and a more thorough fermentation process.
- During the earliest stages of fermentation you will have to “burp” your jar if not using an airlock. For best results do this only very slightly – just barely unscrew the lid until you hear a small amount of the gas escaping and then screw it back on quickly. You want to let just enough of the carbon dioxide out so that the jar won’t explode, but leave enough in so that you achieve as much of an anaerobic environment as possible.
- Eventually the formation of carbon dioxide will slow down and you won’t have to burp the jar any longer.
- You can eat the carrot sticks right away at this point or move them to cold storage like a cellar, a cool basement, a hole in the ground, or, if you must, a refrigerator.