This month Tigress’ challenge for the Can Jam is carrots. I recently harvested a bed of overwintered Purple Dragon and Scarlet Nantaise carrots and Javelin parsnips. Since I have a whole other bed to harvest still it was nice to use up the last of that bed we ate from all fall in this challenge so I can move on. It’s almost time to plant new carrots anyway!
I did have to buy the ginger for this but in another month I’ll be buying my hardy ginger start from Rockridge Orchard which will be nice. Ginger is one of those things I love but it only grows in tropical climates. There is a vendor in the summer at the farmer’s market who sells fresh ginger grown during summer temps in his hothouse in Eastern Washington which I should have pickled. Next year, right?
The hardy ginger is not the same plant, which is why it grows in Seattle. Instead of harvesting the roots you use the leaves to flavor things. I’m hoping between dried ground ginger, fresh leaves part of the year and pickled ginger root I won’t be buying any more imported or Hawaiian ginger root.
These pickles come together quickly and only require a 10 minute water bath. In fact, almost all the labor is in the peeling. The original recipe called for julienning them which would make this more of a condiment than a pickle. We like pickles around here so I cut them into sticks for munching straight out of the jar. I imagine they’ll be nice in school lunches for Pickle Man or diced into Loki salmon or St. Jude tuna sandwiches.
Vietnamese Carrot Pickles (adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
Makes 6 pint jars
3 cups Rockridge Orchard apple cider vinegar
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
2 pounds cut carrots
2 pounds cut daikon radishes or parsnips
1 small hot pepper or pinch crushed dried red pepper (optional)
Sterilize jars and lids.
In a large stainless steel pan combine the vinegar, water, sugar and ginger root. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.
Add the cut vegetables and cook for 1 minute.
Pack the vegetables into the jars and fill not above 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
Ladle the hot liquid into the jars to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
Wipe the jar rims, place the lids on and screw on the bands until fingertip tight.
Place the jars in a water bath canner, completely covering the tops with water. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.
You will be able to eat these within a few hours but the flavor improves after a few weeks.
So you’d think after canning, fermenting or drying what really does appear to be enough fruit, pickle and condiment stores to last us all year I’d be done with my canner.
Not so. It’s still at the ready as I’m not done yet. We did eat all the pickled beets already but I purposefully held off on making a ton of them since I was planning for a large fall crop of beets that didn’t materialize. Last week I bought a huge bag of Detroit Red beets from Nash’s Organic and pickled them this week. I’ve got a fella who just can’t do without ‘em. It *might* have something to do with the fact that he’s 6, way into potty humor and loves the fact that the next day their dark red color graces the toilet. Whatever motivation he needs to eat them I’m fine with.
Because water canning takes up a lot of water and destroys approximately 35% of the nutrients right off the bat, however, I prefer to lacto-ferment veggies wherever possible. Last fall I made some pickled beets and some beet kvass. They’re ready now and we are digging them.
In case you were wondering, historically the difference between pickled foods and food pickles is vinegar or salt. Fermented foods were called pickled [insert food name] while the process of soaking in salt or vinegar brine made it [insert food name] pickles. Salt and vinegar help destroy bad bacteria (and in fact all bacteria) that can spoil the food. Fermenting takes a different approach. It encourages good bacteria so that bad bacteria doesn’t have a chance to take over and spoil the food. And it actually can increase the nutrients and enzymes in the food.
Ocean-going crews throughout history have carried fermented foods with them to help stave off things like scurvy because fermenting actually makes the nutrients easier for your body to absorb, in addition to preserving the food.
So to sum up…canning destroys friendly bacteria, nutrients and enzymes. Fermenting increases nutrients and enzymes. Both preserve the food.
The only downside to fermenting that I can think of is the amount of cold storage space you need. Although they are preserved, you will see marked spoilage if you don’t keep the foods cool. Once they are fermented I store mine in the second refrigerator in the basement.
You probably already have some experience with fermented foods. Some of my favorite are deli style dill pickles, saurkraut and kim chee. But this year I’ve added some new ones. I’ve got an inquisitive mind and when I read about things that seem unusual or unlikely I just have to try them.
Last year’s gems that I’m chomping at the bit to repeat include:
lacto-fermented orange marmalade that was just as fresh by the time I ate my way to the bottom of the jar as it was when I made it.
beet kvass that, despite it’s oddity, my husband drinks without complaining - unlike the daily kefir and fermented cod liver oil I make him take.
ginger bug that we use to innoculate homemade soda or drink straight up as ginger ale.
Because beets are such a good toxin and liver cleanser we are drinking beet kvass heartily today. To your health in the New Year!