Mexican Pickled Carrots & Jalapeños

I have given instructions to can these for long-term storage (up to a year in a cool, dark place) but if you just want to can a couple of jars for consumption within a month, you could just put them in clean jars then store them in the refrigerator. They should sit for at least a week, in that case, before you open them.

This is a fairly traditional Mexical condiment/salad, a great topping for tacos or tostadas or just served as a pickle when you want something with a bite to it. You can control how much bite by adjusting the proportion of Jalapeños to carrots. Or, if you really want them hot, you can cut the core with the seeds neatly out of the chiles as you prepare them, and add a piece of it (with the seeds attached) to the jars. Don't eat it, but the seeds should add extra heat. Of course, it also depends on how hot the Jalapeños are that you can find. I grow my own, and it took a while to find someone who was selling seeds for a hot strain. Most Jalapeños sold nowadays are mere look-likes, so you will need to look carefully to find good ones.

Traditionally, these have a tablespoon or so of olive oil in them as well, but that does not allow for safe canning. Once you have opened a jar and removed a couple of pieces though, you may want to add some to the remainder. Either way, once opened, like all preserves they must be kept in the fridge.

The ingredient list is for one jar; multiply it by the number of jars you wish to make. Multiply the time allowed for prep too. 

per 250 ml jar
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time - 6 weeks rest time

2 medium sized HOT Jalapeño chiles
2 medium carrots
1 clove garlic
1/2 tespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1 bay leaf
3 black peppercorns
1/4 cup clear vinegar
1/4 cup water

Put as many 250 ml canning jars into a canner and cover with water to an inch above the rims. Bring them to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat so that the water stops boiling, but keep the canner ready.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the Jalapeños. Best to wear gloves for this! Cut them into thin strips. Peel the carrots and cut them into strips of the same size as the Jalapeños. Peel the garlic cloves.

When the jars are sterilized, remove them from the canner and put into each one the 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and the 1/4 tespoon oregano, along with a clove of garlic, a bay leaf and 3 peppercorns. Fill the jars with the strips of chile and carrots.

Put the vinegar and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Put the lids and rims into a pot of water and bring them to a boil. Pour the boiling brine over the carrots and chiles until they are filled to within 1 cm of the rims. If there isn't enough, you will need to make a little more.

Wipe the rims, and seal with the lids. Put the jars back into the canner and bring the water back up to a boil. Once it boils, boil for 10 minutes before removing. Allow to cool and check the seals. Let rest 2 to 6 weeks before opening.

- Jennifer Sanders, Seasonal Ontario Food

For more inspiring, local recipes visit Jennifer Sanders' blog, Seasonal Ontario Food.