Getting Into A Pickle.
So remember that post on lactic acid fermentation that a reader had asked about a little while back? I mean, you do read the site regularly, follow the site on Twitter and have clicked the “Like” button on the facebook page by now, right? You’re completely engrossed by all this fascinating, original content that you get delivered to you daily, correct?
Well, anyways, you should is all I’m saying.
In the meantime, that reader question got me to thinking about making pickles. I love, love, love making pickles. I also love things that take almost no effort to make. I also had a surplus of carrots just sitting there in the fridge. Knowing this, the carrot pickle was born. It’s a little bit kimchi, a little bit rock and roll and 100% unforgettable.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve fooled around with making my own pickles by lactic acid fermentation, but it is one of the first times that I’ve really pushed the envelope as far as the seasoning is concerned. Last winter, one of my kitchen friends opened my eyes to this concept when he made some really interesting brussels sprout kimchi that apparently had half the pantry ingredients in it. It would be safe to say that at least half of his seasoning consisted of hot chili peppers and garlic, but there was a tasty hodgepodge of lemongrass, various salty things and god knows what as well.
I had the luxury of trying a plate of this kimchi when it was still pretty new as well as having a container on hand about a month later. The fresh brussels sprout kimchi that I was presented with was a fireball that ensured that I was going to sleep alone for the week. All I could taste was heat, garlic and (oddly) the piquant tang of lemongrass on that initial plate. It was the type of heat that built, so I foolishly ignored my friend’s warning that I should be careful with rapidly eating what was on the dish before me and wolfed the whole thing in no time flat. I regret that decision.
A month later though, the same kimchi napalm had mellowed into the best homemade pickle that I have ever eaten to date. The flavors turned themselves down with age and the headily pervasive garlic stepped off center stage. Even the heat from the chilies was like a brisk arctic chill compared to those first bites just four weeks prior. It was a sad, sad day when I ate my last rationed spoonful of that kimchi but it encouraged me to play with flavors in my own varieties.
When I decided to create the carrot pickle, I considered a few factors. One, that carrots are naturally sweet and that I wanted spices that complimented that. Two, I wanted to add something with some citrus and heat, like that brussels sprout kimchi that I sampled a year prior. And third, I wanted a pickle that would end up mellowing over time. What I came up with was what I’ll share with you today.
Here’s the best part about this pickle- it just keeps on working for as long as you let it go. In fact, this pickle gets better the longer you let it sit out and percolate away. The saltiness mellows over time, so I would suggest letting this sit out at room temperature for at least a week, if not longer. Once refrigerated, this will keep for quite a while.
Carrot Pickle With Ginger
-3 cups carrot, grated
- 1 thumb size knob ginger, spooned and julienned
-6 cardamom pods
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 tablespoon hot chili pepper flakes
-2 tablespoons kosher salt
1. Start by crushing the cardamom pods using the flat side of a chef’s knife.
2. Combine the spices and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, toss the carrot and ginger together. Add the spices and toss everything thoroughly. Really get in there.
4. Put all of the macerating carrot and ginger into a glass or foodsafe plastic container with a wide top.
5. Take a smaller glass or foodsafe plastic container and set it on top of everything. Fill the empty container with water to weight it down.
6. If there is a gap between the carrot and water containers, wrap the sides with plastic film.
7. Set the whole thing out on a counter where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much. You want a room that stays about 70 degrees for this.
8. Leave the pickle for at least 2 days, then toss it. After tossing, re-weight it and wait.
9. Turn the pickle daily and re-weight it down. Sample bits regularly.
10. When the spices have mellowed to your desired taste (this can take a week or more), transfer the pickle to jars with tops and refrigerate.