Brine pickles, like these Pickled Carrots, are among the easiest fermented foods for beginners to make. Bright in flavor, owing to the inclusion of both thyme and jalapeño, these carrots make a nice starter and pack well in sack lunches or for picnics.
Thyme and Jalapeño Pickled Carrots
- 1 jalapeño
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 4 medium carrots cut into 3-inch-long, ¼-inch-thick sticks
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon finely ground real salt
- Place the whole jalapeño, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns into a clean 1-quart mason jar. Put the carrot sticks in on top of the herbs and spices, packing them in tightly. Leave ½ to ¾ inch of headroom at the top of the jar.
- Prepare the brine: Warm ¼ cup of the water, add the salt, and stir until dissolved. Stir that salty water into the rest of the water.
- Pour enough brine over the carrots to cover them by ¼ inch. (You should have enough brine, but make more if you need to.) Put the lid on the jar and set aside to ferment at room temperature. I leave my fermenting carrots on the kitchen counter by the sink to make the next step easier.
- As the fermentation progresses, gas will form inside the jar. Without actually taking the lid off, loosen the lid of the jar to release the pressure. I do this over the sink, as sometimes the jar contents will bubble up and some of the brine can leak out. Leave the lid loosened until the bubbles stop, then tighten the lid back down and let the jar ferment for another day. Do this daily for the first week.
- At the end of the week, remove the lid completely to make sure the brine still covers the carrots by ¼ inch; any carrots exposed to air may mold. Add more brine as needed and tighten the lid back on the jar.
- Now set the carrots aside in a cool, dark spot to ferment for 4 weeks. Check them every week to make sure there is still sufficient brine covering the carrots and to release any pressure. It is common for a powdery-looking film, called kahm yeast, to form on the surface of the brine. You may also see spots of mold, which will usually form in a thicker layer and may look hairy or textured. The brine itself may also grow cloudy, which is normal. As long as the mold growth is on the surface of the ferment and hasn’t penetrated the vegetables themselves, you can simply use a clean spoon to scrape off the mold and as much of the yeast as you can, and it’s perfectly safe to continue to ferment or to eat the vegetables.
- Begin to taste the carrots after 4 weeks. They should be sour, spicy, and a little smoky tasting (that comes from the thyme!). They should still be crunchy, but not as much as a raw carrot. If they still seem raw, or you want them softer, they have not fermented long enough; replace the lid and give them another 1 to 3 weeks. The speed of fermentation will vary depending on the ambient temperature. They will ferment faster in warmer temperatures and slower in cooler temperatures.
- When you like the taste, store the carrots in the refrigerator, where they will keep for 6 months. Once they are refrigerated, the carrots do not have to be submerged beneath the brine; the cold will keep them from spoiling.
Easy Fermented Veggies You Can Make at Home
Fermented foods, like these pickled carrots, are wonderfully easy to make, and they're remarkably rich in beneficial bacteria that help to support the immune system, and build a healthy gut.
You can find all of our fermented vegetable recipes here, but below you'll find some of our favorites.
Sour Pickles are an easy to make and are seasoned with garlic, dill and pickling spice for a classic flavor.
Hot Pink Garlic Jalapeño Sauerkraut is a favorite ferment with its vivid hot pink color and sharp bite of spice and garlic.
Pickled Jalapeños don't take much effort at all, but keep in the fridge for a year or longer.
Fermented Okra is super easy to make, especially in the early fall when okra's plentiful.