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39 responses to “Carrot Pickles, without Vinegar”

  1. Susan V

    I love that fermentation turns the food into a high probiotic, good for you food, and even increases the vitamin content in many cases. Canning, on the other hand destroys much of what is good in the food.

  2. Laura

    so, the tops of the bigger jars is open? just a bag o’ brine or the smaller jar sitting in the water? Just want to get it right.

  3. David

    excellent! I can’t wait to try this with some green beans

  4. Joli

    I love this recipe, they are great with ginger as well. I love home fermenting everything from beets to milk to kombucha and beyond.

    I feel the need to add a comment though, about making them shelf stable, or processing them.

    By lacto-fermenting, you not only create a delicious pickle (boiling not actually required) but you amp up the vitamin and enzyme activity, making them even healthier than raw.

    If you process them, aka boil or heat in any way, you Destroy all of that lovely work you just did creating an enzyme rich super food.

    You generally shouldn’t process, can, cook, freeze or otherwise denature fermented foods if you want to keep the nutritional value in tact.

  5. D.J.

    A question back to you two: What do you do when you run out of fridge space? You can’t very well leave a fermenting jar of pickles at room temperature indefinitely.

    You didn’t ask this question of me, but I hope you don’t object to my answering. I put fermented veg in a dark cellar. Some people cap fermented salsa and do this. It continues to ferment a bit, but it stays good for many months.

  6. D.J.

    Opps! I forgot to add that fermented cukes rarely stay firm for long, even with the advent of grape or oak leaves. Those leaves do help them stay crisp a tad longer, the tannins I guess. Other things like salsa, coles, carrots, etc. do very well in a cool basement.

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  8. Lynn

    I have a quart of carrots fermenting on my counter (after I tasted yours clamming, had to have some!) It’s been 4 days- liquid got a little cloudy day 3 (I understand that’s OK). But also day 3 white foam around the top of the jar (none touching carrots, which are submerged, bag of brine on top). I read it’s OK, and to skim the foam off the top. Have you ever had this ever happen?

  9. Lazy Hippie: Food that Preserves Itself « Inadvertent Hippie

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  10. Roberta

    Hank, it seems like you don’t make a great quantity since you keep in the fridge. I have cucumbers I want to preserve and was wondering if right now would be a good time to ferment them and leave in the garage (without boiling). Anyone done this before?

    Sorry, English is my second language.

  11. Pirate Jeni

    Thank you for this post. I made these as instructed except that I didn’t have a dried chili so I used a fresh jalapeno from my garden. woah.. excellent flavor.. but wow the heat was intense! You know.. in a good way.

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  14. rudy

    my carrots are cloudy- I have been fermenting cabbage for the past year and didn’t notice the cloudiness- probably because the color is so close. I opened them and smelled them and they smell like carrots. Hoping they are on the right track- it has been about a week, and the temp in my house is not real warm. Thank you for any advice!

  15. S Milton

    Thank you so much! I love preserved veges, but can’t eat vinegar – so I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try.

  16. Bill P.

    Great post. I have been making no vinegar pickles for over 40 years.
    We make 40 – 48 quarts per year and they last an entire year. We start making pickles in early August. We have always used the no vinegar recipe. Once made, the jars stay in the cold spot the entire time. The temperature ranges from 60 degrees in August to 40 degrees in January. We “do not” process these jars in any way, they just naturally brine and once the brining is complete the jars stay on the shelf. Yes, they are not as crisp the longer you keep them, but still excellent and crunchy enough for me. When we make the pickles we pack the jars and place one head of dill on top of the pickles in the jar to make sure they stay submerged. We then screw the lids on tight once the ars are full and filled with water. We found that the old style glass lids are the only ones that can withstand the pressure of the brining process, the metal lids that are normally used in canning tend to buckle due to the pressure generated in brining, then they let air in and spoil the pickles. Using glass lids we found that only one or two jars of pickles spoil. Some jars are so well sealed that when we open them the effervessence, is like a bottle of carbonated soda, these I find are the best pickles and even drink the brine, and, use the brine(a small amount) in a bloody mary cocktail. We have been doing this for 40 years, and, my family for 40 years before that, none of us has died using this process, and we have always been healthy with no digestive problems. This I attribute to these pickles and also to drinking th juice.

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  18. rudy

    should i scrape the scum/mold off the top? this will be the 2nd day and the lid was not left on tight- its white and bubbly.
    Thank you for your help~

  19. rudy

    Thanks Hank- they are sooo delicious!! My farmer forgot my order and I can’t wait to make more!

  20. Find Flavorful Fun Fermenting Food! - Real Cheap Food

    […] recipe is  salt + water + vegetables.  Sauerkraut and kimchee are made this way. You can also pickle carrots or other vegetables without vinegar, using kosher salt, water, and spices. Other versions of pickled foods involve vinegar, or vinegar […]

  21. Herbert Wm. Rice

    I made a batch, then started another the day after, as I realized that in following your directions I missed the peppercorns in the first go around (they aren’t in the instructions – just the list). Still waiting to see if they are going to turn out. I’m getting flakes in the brine, I’ve since found out that the kosher salt needs to not contain anti-caking compound. Hope that’s only visual.


  22. Benboom

    Question: I have been looking all over Google for the answer to this and come up with zip – can you use frozen carrots to referment or does the process kill the lactobacillus?

  23. mary

    Hi ~ If I just wanted to pickle carrots without the exact spices you mentioned… but say, garlic onions, and like dill seed or celery seed… and salt of course. Could I do that? Or is there something about the peppercorns and chillies that ferment?
    Also, do the carrots get soft?
    Do they get “cooked”?

  24. Benboom

    Mary, you don’t need pepper or chilis. Lots of Kim Chi recipes don’t use hot ingredients even though most do. All you really need is salt. (Hmm…something about the Beatles in that, LOL.)

  25. Benboom

    After four days my carrots taste…incredibly salty, that’s all. I can tell there is some chili there, but I get zero sense of fermentation. But I have to say, 1/4 cup of salt is way too much.

  26. Alex

    Lynn and Rudy (I know these posts were AGES ago, but here goes):

    The cloudiness is possibly due to a couple of possibilities:
    Tap water that is chlorinated, and/or the type of salt used.

    You need to either use spring water, or boil a good measure of tap water for 15 minutes, allow it to cool, and let it stand covered, for 24 hours, then use it to replace the brine in your jars, as per recipe instructions.
    Just prepare the brine mix according to the recipe (but you could use fewer spices, as the current cloudy mix has already done some of that work!)and pour off the old cloudy brine. Fill the jar back up with the new cold brine, and make sure the carrots are submerged. I took a large outer leaf off an iceberg lettuce, folded it up, pressed it on top of the carrots, and closed the lid again. The lettuce leaf was also delicious!

    If you used spring water, then perhaps it was the salt. Make sure the salt you use has no iodine, or anti-caking agents. These actually inhibit the fermentation process. Kosher or un-treated salt is best.

    I found it best to sterilise my containers too.
    I half-filled my glass jars with boiling water, then whizzed them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove (use oven gloves!) and empty. cover them with a clean, dry cloth, to allow the residual heat to evaporate any remaining droplets of water. I Sterilise the lids too, by pouring boiling water on them, in a bowl, and leaving them there until required.
    Hope all this helps!!

  27. Alex

    I wonder if you’d mind if I add a further comment (I’m not an attention-seeker!)
    Weighing down the vegetables in jars, may be a problem for some, if we’re just using plain screw-top jars we’ve saved from previous uses. I have overcome this problem by finding some smooth, rounded, un-chipped, unblemished stones, of various sizes.
    I have scrubbed them judiciously with a nailbrush, washing up liquid, and bleach, and washed them in the dish-washer, and stored them in a plastic box with a lid.
    I prepare my vegetables, put them in the jar, cover them in brine, top up with a ‘cover’ of folded iceberg lettuce leaves, then press the appropriate stone on top. I make sure that the pressure of the lid pushes the stone down further, and really keeps all those delicious vegetables under brine.
    So far, I have never experienced any contamination problems – but obviously, I wash and clean the stones as above, each time I have used them. I dry them carefully with a clean cloth or kitchen paper, and put them back into the store box.

    If you decide to use this method, it’s really, really IMPORTANT to make sure the stones are flint, quartz or granite types, and not a porous rock!

  28. Alice

    We Polish folks love to make dill pickle soup with leftover brine and pickles. It’s a combo of chicken broth and pickle juice and celery, onion, carrot, shredded pickles and potatoes that’s been ever so lightly creamed. The next time you are in the Detroit area come check out Hamtramck’s Polish restaurants to give it a try. We met you at a book signing here and love your book. Can’t wait to buy the new one.

  29. Aaron

    Hank, thank you so much for publishing this recipe. I have done kimchi awhile back and experimented with salty pickling, but have lost all my old recipes. (and they were great ones!)

    I have made the brine and am waiting for it to cool and I would have to agree with one of the comments about it’s high saltiness. Pulling out the postage scale, I did some measurements to estimate the salinity of the brine.

    Your recipe recommends 1/4 cups of salt per 4 cups of water. I weighed the salt (Diamond Crystal kosher) and it came out to 1.4 ounces per 1.4 cup. I also ensured the accuracy of my scale by measuring 1/4 cup of water, which came out exactly to 2 ounces, which is correct.

    So, 4 cups (32 oz) of water with 1/4 cup (1.4oz) = 0.04375 = 4.3% brine.

    In my limited experience, this seems quite high for a simple veggie like a carrot. If lacto-fermentation is a goal, then I would say that the relatively high salinity of this brine is inhibiting that process, which is probably why you are not experiencing much fermentation flavor. I believe that the salinity should be around the 2% range.

    Oh, and I was curious as to what Morton’s Kosher salt would yield salinity-wise. I don’t have any, but found a site that gave the weight. Morton’s is 2.2 ounces per 1/4 cup, which is about 57 percent heavier than Diamond Crystal’s 1.4 ounces per 1/4 cup. (This makes me think that Diamond Crystal may not be *cheaper* than Morton’s–must investigate later.)

    So, 4 cups (32 oz) of water with 1/4 cup of (2.2oz) = 0.04375 = 6.8% brine! That is quite a bit higher than using Diamond Crystal at 4.3% and, in my opinion, way too high for carrots. 🙂

    I’m going to make two batches of carrots in parallel. One will use the brine at the recommended level in the recipe (which with Diamond Crystal would be 4.3%) and the other batch will have water added to it to bring it down to about 2.2%. Will try to report back results in a few days or a week. (Sorry for the long posting!)

  30. Chieko Ann

    Instead of weighing the veggies down, I line the surface with plastic wrap, pressing out any air. This keeps the vegetables in the brine. If you’re worried about the plastic, don’t. High temps are not used so there is no leaching.

  31. Jim

    I used my fermentation crock with the ceramic weights. Very interesting flavor at four days. I think I’ll jar and water bath them at seven days.

  32. Jim

    Just popped a jar for an antipasti plate. What a cool vegetable concoction. I can see why this is your go to for carrots. This will be a standard going forward.

  33. mase

    Hi Hank

    Can I pickle beet roots like what you did with the carrots?
    What spice would you recommend to compliment the beets.


  34. mase

    Hi Hank

    Tq for the reply.

    I’m adding cumin, celery seed and black pepper to the beets – about a tsp each for my 5lbs of beets (it was on sale and I love juicing beets with cucumber).

    I have made the purple cabbage sauerkraut and it is sitting pretty in a Tupperware(press down with another brine filled tupperware) but not tightly covered – can’t wait to taste it a fortnight from now.

    I’m in the equator, so it’s summer year round and temp avg 30C. Maybe I need a fridge just to pickle them at 70F/20C for the first 2 weeks.


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