Sweet Hot Pickled Carrots

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This recipe is so simple I will dispense with the usual list of ingredients and instructions and just describe the process. Just be sure to read it all the way through. We’re not children here.

What you need for this is a quart-sized mason jar stuffed all the way full with shredded carrots (preferably on the smallest blade set of a mandolin) and a jalapeño sliced or cut into matchsticks. Usually this entails about 12 oz of carrots, with maybe 1/4 of that going to waste on nubs too small to pass through the mandolin. You can also simply grate them, although the texture will be vastly inferior. You could also practice your knife skills on them and cut long julienne by hand but I am not responsible for any bodily harm.

Once you have this mason jar stuffed full of carrots, place a canning funnel in it. If you don’t have a canning funnel, go buy one. Then place a small saucepan on the stove and in it heat 2 cups of seasoned rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup of sugar, and dried, crushed hot red chiles to taste. I use the very hot chinese red chiles and usually grind two of them fresh in a mortar and pestle. Bring this mess up to something close to a boil, enough to dissolve the sugar. Stir it thoroughly.

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Being intelligent about the whole process and using how ever many towels you need, bring the still quite hot mixture in the saucepan over to the quart-sized mason jar stuffed full of carrots and pour the mixture in. It should come to about the point at which the “shoulders” of the jar begin.

Allow this to sit and cool without capping it. Theoretically you could sterilize both the jar and the cap in this procedure. My experience has been that these things just don’t last long enough around willing eaters to warrant that. Once the jar and its contents are cool, cap the jar and refrigerate. The pickle will be ready in a handful of hours (although of course 24 is best), and it is best served chilled.

This is one of the staples of my kitchen, and has proved quite popular with those I make food for. Especially me! These were styled on the Vietnamese do chua and primarily made for banh mi, alongside a spiced daikon pickle that I also make. So it goes without saying that they are a good sandwich topping. They also are great in composed salads and on tossed salads, added to noodle bowls, noodle soups, regular soups, as garnishes, in omelettes, etc. etc. etc. A real kitchen standby, and one that can be a vehicle for your own style and creativity. Tell me what you make with them!

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