Indian Pickled Sweet, Spicy Carrots and Jam


Winter is a great time of year to tackle a kitchen project that will both add to the pantry shelves and bring a little color to the gray days. While there isn’t much local produce available over winter, carrots are a cold-weather standout, and a fabulously flexible vegetable—equally tasty in both sweet and savory dishes. My personal favorite is the Indian Pickled Carrot recipe. It includes spices toasted and fried in olive oil, which perfumes the pickling brine and adds richness not often found in common pickles. The Carrot Jam is a winner, too, as it turns an unexpected vegetable into a sultry sweet treat.


Makes about 3 pints | start to finish: 3 hours

Pickles are often dedicated to vinegar-loving-vegetables like cucumber and asparagus, but when scented heavily with Indian spices, carrots offer a flavor profile updated from a more traditional pickle. These spices are very typical in Indian cuisine and produce an intoxicating scent and flavor. Feel free to add or omit any of them, although together they work in harmony. Also, be sure to cut the carrots into uniform matchsticks, as they fit the best in the canning jar and will cook evenly.

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3 peels of lemon rind (left whole, not grated)
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces (1 piece per jar)
1/4 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1-inch-long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into uniform matchsticks

Prepare jars for canning. In a medium-sized saucepot, bring the vinegar, sugar, lemon rind, and cinnamon stick to a gentle boil and hold over low heat.

In another sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, stir in the fenugreek seed, black mustard seed, fennel seed, chile flakes, coriander seed, and cumin seed. When the spices begin to pop (about 4 minutes), add the ginger, garlic, salt, and onion, cooking and stirring until soft and slightly caramelized, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

Pack the canning jars with the carrot matchsticks, to 1/2″ from the top of the jar. Pour equal spoonfuls of the spice mixture into each jar. Pour the hot vinegar liquid over the carrots, submerging them and leaving about 1/2″ of headspace. (The contents should sit just below the bottom ring on the glass jar.)

Process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes. Make sure the seals are secure, and store in a cool, dark cupboard for at least three weeks before eating.

washed jars • water bath

This carrot jam recipe was inspired by my favorite carrot cake ingredients. The final jam is so close to marmalade you may not be able to tell the difference. The citrus in this recipe is crucial and makes for a safe water-bath canning recipe—make sure to choose firm, slightly under-ripe fruit. Because carrots are low in pectin, this is a recipe that will take some time. To help activate the pectin, the jam is cooked for a short time and then left overnight to infuse. Try the jam as a marinade for baked chicken (think honey-orange chicken) or as a side to roast pork. I have served this carrot jam with cheese and crackers, or used it as a filling between layers of carrot cake. It would also be delicious between layers of coconut cake.


Makes about 2 pints | start to finish: 2 hours

1 1/2 pounds carrot, peeled and finely grated (about 6 cups)
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 limes, juiced, rinds reserved (about 1/2 cup juice)
2 oranges, juiced, rinds reserved (about 3/4 cup juice)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 cup water

In a large saucepan, add carrots, sugar, juices, ginger and water and place over medium heat. Add two reserved lime halves and two reserved orange halves. Cook until carrots are just softened and sugar is dissolved, about 20 to 30 minutes. Pull from the heat and cover. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, return the pot to medium high and cook until the jam is just set, 45 minutes to an hour. The jam will be a loose set, just on the side of thick syrup. Scoop the jam into clean preserving jars and store in the fridge, where it will keep for about 8 weeks.

washed jars • store in fridge

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