Preserving Autumn – Spicy Pickled Carrots

Preserving Autumn   Spicy Pickled Carrots wellpreservededibleautumn Preserving Recipes Carrot

When I was younger I had several friends who bought Jeeps.  There were TJs, YJs, CJs and more.  They all looked neat to me but they were far more than that to them.

Jeep owners were like a different flock unto themselves.  They waved at each other on dirt roads, talked to each other at gas stations and would gather in groups to go for rides – on or off-road.  It was a fun time of my life and neat to get a glimpse into a subculture that`s so hidden that it hides in front of your eyes, in plain sight.

I remember T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, Coffee Mugs and even a tatoo that played a a variation of the same theme; `It`s a Jeep thing; you wouldn`t understand.`  Another take on it was `If I have to explain it, you`ll never understand.`

Pickled Carrots are apparently related to off-road vehicles.

The idea of bathing Bugs Bunny`s favourite snack in an acid bath can be difficult to explain.  I`ve rarely handed a pickled carrot to a `newbie`who has bitten in with great excitement.  It`s usually the second bite that people start to get excited for.

Pickled carrots are crunchy and really are a wonderful compliment to a bottle of beer (pickled eggs are also great for such an occaision).

Preserving Autumn   Spicy Pickled Carrots wellpreservededibleautumn Preserving Recipes Carrot

Here`s the ingredients (this will make 4 pint jars):

  • 2¾ pounds peeled carrots (about 3½ pounds as purchased).  Very fresh carrots work the best, avoid purple ones as they`ll turn your entire brine dark and stormy-like.
  • 5½ cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons canning salt
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed (0.5 teaspoon per jar)
  • 4-8 Garlic cloves (1-2 per jar)
  • 14 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (3.5 teaspoons per jar)

Yes, that`s a lot of pepper.  You can easily lower it to 1 teaspoon per jar but that`s your choice.  :)

  1. Wash and peel the carrots – cut in quarters and wash again before placing in jars.
  2. Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add carrots and boil for 10 minutes (this does soften them but also allos the brine to penetrate)
  3. Place the dill, garlic and pepper in the bottom of hot, sterilized pint jars (this is why there are measurements per jar above)
  4. Fill the jars with the hot carrots and leave 0.5 inch headspace.
  5. Remove excess air, wipe rims, place lids on.
  6. Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

You can also add 0.5 teaspoons of celery seed i you`d like as well.

Now if I could just get my hands on a convertible off-road vehicle…

This is part of our series of posts linked to our Preserving Autumn article in Edible Toronto.  The posts will update daily from September 18th and you’ll be able to see all of the posts in the series by clicking here.


  1. Andreas Duess says:

    I made wild fermented carrot pickles this year, which are turning out to be wonderful.

    • Wow Andreas,

      Those sound stunning – we`re turning to more and more fermentation; I`d love to have a series of 6-10 croccs on rotation :)

      Sounds really, really great though – awesome stuff!


  2. This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try my hand at them this weekend. I do, however, need your sage advice.. on the sugar. I am diabetic and try to can without any sugar. Is this sugar in this recipe for sweetness, or for other purposes? Do you think it would be possible to substitute honey or stevia, or another low glycemic substitute for the sugar?

    I can’t wait to try them.. down here in Southern Louisiana, we prefer to start our weekend breakfasts with a spicy bloody mary, and I think these little gems would be perfect to pair with my spicy pickled green beans for garnish.

    Thanks as always,

    • Hi April,

      Joel from WellPreserved – appologies for not ansswering sooner. Writing every day and working a hectic job has got our hands a little tied if we don’t know answers off the top of our head.

      I can’t reccomend altering a recipe though I’m not certain I wouldn’t do it for myself. In other words, I guess it’s safe but I’m not a scientist or a chef.

      Best course would be to find a recipe without sugar – but most veggie pickles contain some.

      I think a naturally fermented carrot woul work – like Andreas mentions in the comments on the post. We’ll be covering fermentation by the weekend when we cover cabbage.

      Food in jars (a digital friend) has a different approach that also looks very cool and doesn’t use sugar – though you keep them in the fridge. They look great though:

      Quick google tip. Seach:
      “pickled carrots” recipe -sugar

      make sure you include the quotes and the hyphen. This will eliminate recipes with sugar in them.

      Always use tested recipes from trusted sources and you’ll be safe!


      • The sugar in pickles doesn’t preserve, it’s purely there to counteract the acidity of the vinegar – without it most pickles would be inedible.

        Wild fermented pickles work differently, here you’re creating a habitat suitable for lacto-acid producing bacteria. A 3-5% saline solution is ideal, three grams of salt for every 100ml of water.

        Make sure that your jars are clean and that you’re keeping your pickles in the dark and at a temperature of below 21 degrees. A cool basement is perfect for this.

        To get started with wild fermenting you’ll need:

        One clean glass jar or crock pot.

        Vegetables of your choice. Dukes and carrots work well.

        flavorings, like dill, chillies or garlic. The choice is entirely yours. I’ve made carrots with Indian spices (cumin and coriander) which turned out beautifully.

        Salt water, see above.

        A way to keep everything submerged, like a plate or a smaller jar.

        Pack your jar with your vegetables and herbs. Fill with the salt water, making sure to cover everything. Weigh content down with a plate or small jar, it’s extremely important that none of the pickles touch the air- if they do they’ll spoil.

        Put into a cool, dark room and leave alone. Some white or green fuzz will develop, wipe off every couple of days. As a rule of thumb, white and green mould is ok, black mould isn’t. However, if you keep the temperature low then the good bacteria will overcome any nasties and you should have no problems.

        After three to four weeks your pickles will be ready to eat.

  3. Wow! I have idly wondered what you could do with carrots and they sound superb. I will purposely plant too many, so that I can give this a shot. You guys and your recipes rock!

    • you guys are the awesomenest!

      We also have dehydrated carrots for soup and the like. Now I`m on a carrot mission to come up with ideas…carrot infused vodka…erm, I wenttoo far. again. :)


  4. Sarah McNamara says:

    Hi! I just opened a jar of the spicy carrots I made a few weeks ago- and all I can say is, wow! Spicy! The balance of sweet, sour, spicy and dill is great! Perfect with a beer. But not for the timid. I think next time I will reduce the red pepper flakes in a jar or two so my kids can enjoy them too. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  5. I made the recipe! I still have to wait several weeks to enjoy!

  6. 4 lovely jars of spicy carrots are sitting on my counter as I type… let the waiting begin!

    Did anyone else get garlic that has a an interesting blue tinge? Should I have blanched them?

  7. Joel,


    I made these for some friends for Christmas, along with pickled beans. I now have orders for a case of each, so I guess they were a hit !! Thanks for the great recipe!!


    • Diane, so nice of you to say – and I’m thrilled. I really have a soft spot for these as they were a mistake that became a little piece of heaven :)

  8. I’m cooking a batch of these right now, though I added a bit of ginger as well because I love combining carrot and ginger. Anyway, how long would you wait once canning them before eating? Thanks!

  9. Where is the pin button for Pinterest?

    • Hi Fred!

      If you just hold your mouse over the picture, you’ll see a pin-it appear in the top left. I’ve just realized that this wouldn’t appear on mobile/ tablets so have added that just now. :) Hope that helps? Thanks for spreading the word. :) Joel

  10. Hello,

    I would like to make these, but I would really like the carrots to be crunchy. I am wondering if I could just put the raw carrots in the jars, pour in the hot brine and follow the processing instructions. Would this be risky to cut out the cooking time for the carrots? I am a beginner canner.


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