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Week 3 - Friday - Experimental, with an Emergency Pickling Question

Pickled CarrotsI don't have the car today, so I spend the time usually alloted for marketing on making bread and trying my hand at refrigerator pickles.

The bread is the Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. I mix up the ingredients and put the dough aside to raise in a bowl, then turn my attention to the pickles.

One of my commenters suggested pickling all those extra carrots, and that's a very good idea. Pickling, like cheesemaking and canning and drying and fermenting is just a way of turning an over-abundance of fresh food into something that will last. In this case, I won't be processing the jars, so we'll have to keep them refrigerated—but it sounds like fun, and I'm willing to give it a try.

I spend a few minutes searching the Web to see what I can find. Most of the recipes are for sweet bread-and-butter carrot pickles, but I have one of those already. I'm having an idea about a dilled carrot pickle—I don't know if such a thing exists. After some poking around, I come up with a promising list. I print out two reciepes and proceed to start scrubbing and slicing carrots.

Both call for matchstick slices. I decide to do the dilled version in a matchstick slice, but I cut the Thai-style pickles on the diagonal. The first recipe doesn't specify an amount for the dill, so I use a teaspoon. Since it's dill weed and not dill seed, I don't know if that will be enough. I'll find out in a week.

The Thai-style pickles call for tossing the sliced carrots in salt and letting them sit for an hour, then draining. I do this, and carefully rinse the carrots. I taste one. SALT! I rinse them again. Still salty. The carrots seem to have absorbed the flavor. Can that be right? Furthermore, after rummaging through the cupboard, I discover that I don't have any Rice Wine Vinegar. I substitute the lightest vinegar I have, distilled white vinegar, but let's face it—these pickles are just not going to be right.

I make Deborah Madison's Split Pea Soup with my usual list of modifications. Tonight, I omit the bay leaf (I don't have one) and most of the parsley, since the plant on the back porch is too small to harvest 1/4 cup from.

I guess the main attribute of my cooking style is a complete disregard for the recipe. I always use one, but I don't hesitate to change it according to what I have or don't have on hand. Or, what I think will taste better. Sometimes recipes just don't work the way they say they will, in which case you have to make intelligent alterations. I think you have to have a certain amount of cooking experience to feel comfortable doing this—and a certain fearlessness of palate, since sometimes the decisions you make will be wrong.

But I never feel bad about altering a recipe. That's how recipes get written in the first place.

The bread raises very well in the pan. So well, in fact, that I slash the top of the loaf before I put it in the oven so that it can raise to its full extent. This is a mistake. In the oven, the top deflates to create a loaf with a slightly concave top. At first I think the oven might not have been preheated properly (and that's probably true). Then I think it might be because I reduced the sugar by 2/3. Then I look at the loaf more carefully and realize that the deflation seems to be centered very specifically around the slash marks. Ah, the fruits of being cocky.

Week 3 - Saturday -Looks like troubleJesse requests a small portion of everything, but the bread is just out of the oven and, like me, he can't resist a second slice. The slices look a little funny, to be sure. But it sure does taste good.

Update: I have an emergency question for any experienced picklers out there: the cloves of garlic in my dilled carrot pickles are all turning a strange greenish-blue color! Is that, um, acceptable? It's really much blue-er than the picture shows.

Friday total: $7.54. Remaining weekly allowance (estimated): $23.86.

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garlic turns blue when pickled. there's some trick to avoid it, but i can't think of it offhand. i'll let you know if i dig it up. nothing to worry about. =)

I just found your blog, and have been reading with interest. I've found some interesting recipes from your posts that should be very useful this summer when our garden is producing. A few years ago, my adult daughter (who is autistic) and I had only $100/month for not only our food, but for all of our other needs -- paper products, soap and shampoo, dog food, and so on (yes, the dog food was an extra cost, but we already had him). With help from the garden, a few chickens for eggs, and a couple of goats for milk, we made it for a couple of years on that budget. Things aren't quite so tight anymore, thankfully! But it's good to know that if we had to, we could live on that amount again.

Hey. I'm really enjoying your blog. I don't know if you came across it, but there's a great book out there called "Grub" and they have a great recipe for pickled carrots. really simple too. unfortunately, i don't have it with me (out of town). i've tried it, and it's very good. and the book in general is excellent - especially if you need to find new ways to employ the stuff in a veg book each week. :)

Was it idodised salt, but any chance? And they are supposed to retain a slghtly salty tang - it balances out in the end product.

On the Food Network site, there is a recipe from Alton Brown's Good Eats for a spicy carrot pickle, I think it's called Firecracker Carrots. It's a refrigerator pickle, very easy. I made it once and it was very good.

Also, I've pickled garlic before and never had it turn blue, but I understand it can happen if there are trace amounts of copper in your water. It's caused by the sulfer compounds in the garlic reacting with the copper, and it is still safe to eat the garlic like that.

Hi. Thanks for this blog! heard about it on the HealthyCheapCooking Yahoo group. Extra-interesting for me as a former San Franciscan (now in NH). I used to walk to get lunch stuff from Rainbow - that is, when we didn't go out to get Vietnamese food in the neighborhood. Not much of that around here (sigh!). Anyway, a few years, half a country, and two kids later, this is a REALLY useful model. The recipes are really helpful. I was especially curious about the carrot-top soup - did it seem like the tops added anything flavor-wise, were they invisible, or were they sort of non-food filler?

Rebecca - there's a post from The Garlic Store on blue garlic:

saying that it's a reaction between an enzyme in the garlic, copper, and sulfur to form a harmless but colorful blue copper sulfate compound. Quoting:

"On the same subject, our friend, Bob Anderson, explains that garlic contains sulfur compounds which can react with copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound. The amount of copper needed for this reaction is very small and is frequently found in normal water supplies. Raw garlic contains an enzyme that if not inactivated by heating reacts with sulfur (in the garlic) and copper (from water or utensils) to form blue copper sulfate.

The garlic is still perfectly safe to eat."

Hi, I just stumbled across your blog this morning, and I wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying it. I've just started canning recently, and will probably be pickling in this summer... so I don't know much about it, but Harold McGee wrote about color changes in garlic and onions on his blog and in a NYTimes article a few months ago.
Here's a link to the blog, which links to the article:
Hope it helps explain it a bit!

Copper, eh? That makes me wonder about the San Francisco water supply. My Pur filter claims to reduce the copper in my water - and we just changed it this week. If there's still enough to blue my garlic, I wonder what copper level I started with?

ah hah! from "Thai Food" by david thompson,

"when pickling garlic, it is important to first soak the garlic in salted water overnight to kill the green shoot at its centre, otherwise it will begin to turn an unnerving blue-green colour."

haven't tried this, so unsure if it works, i've always just eaten the blue.

I'm addicted to taco shop style jalapeno-carrot pickles. I like to throw onion in there too. My husband turns slightly green when I chow down on them, but that just means more for me!

I simmer water, white vinegar, jalapeno slices, fresh garlic, mustard seed, and kosher salt and pour it into leftover claussen pickle jars (yes, I have a pickle problem) that have been filled with carrots cut on diagonal and sliced onion.
It's really good if you add cauliflower too, instead of the onion.

I used to make dill pickles and when I ran out of cucumbers, I would fill the wide mouth jars with whole green beans, asparagus spears, or carrot sticks. After a few years, my late husband suggested I just make the dilled vegetables and skip the pickles.

They were always the first to go on an appetizer plate. Check the price if you were to buy them; very frugal to make your own. (don't use table salt for canning)

Ever make watermelon rind pickles?

> Ever make watermelon rind pickles?

No! And we will start getting watermelon later this summer. Please share the recipe!

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