Pickled Dilly Carrots in the Water Bath Canner
Of all the world of pickled things, pickled carrots are king pin! And not just any old pickled carrot. If you're like me, you've tried lots & lots of store-bought pickled carrots and been disappointed way to often to count!
That's why I always come back to this recipe from my Mom's treasury of pickling recipes. This recipe always seems to create pickled carrots with just the right amount of dill & garlic punch. I remember these carrots fondly from my childhood and am always disappointed when we run out of dilly carrots in the cold room!
If you've got small pickling size carrots or if you've got big carrots that need to be cut down to fit into the pickling jars, this recipe works great both ways.
As with a lot of my recipes passed down from my Mom and grandma, there are no exact measurements for the carrots to brine. So I start with however many carrots I've got and then collect enough jars, lids, and rings that I think I'll need. For example, I'll put all my washed and chopped carrots into a large measuring cup and estimate how many jars I will need - I use the pint jars (500 mL) which hold about 2 cups of carrots. So, if I've got 20 cups of carrots, I wash and prepare 10 to 12 jars.
Same goes for the brine. I estimate that each jar will hold about 3/4 to 1 cup of brine to cover the carrots completely and bring the brine up to the right height. So for those 10 to 12 jars of carrots, I'll make sure I have 12 cups of brine - and will double the recipe below.
Always know that if you run out of brine, you can always make another small batch to finish up your pickling.
Pickled Dilly Carrots Recipe
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt or pickling salt
*Makes approximately 6 cups of brine. You will need approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of brine per 500mL/pint jar). Double or triple the brine if you have lots of carrots.
Filling (per 500 mL/pint jar):
- 1 to 2 heads of fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
- 2 cloves fresh garlic (or 1 teaspoon dried granulated garlic)
- 1 teaspoon pickling spice
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional - to make spicy dilly carrots)
1 - Preparing your Carrots:
Scrub carrots really well to remove all dirt. Cut any carrots that are too large/long for the jar into smaller pieces. Use your 500 mL/pint jar as a reference - cut carrots shorter than the height from the bottom of the jar to the bottom ring. Place cut carrots into a cold water bath for 1 to 2 hours before making your brine. Drain water before canning.
2 - Preparing your Brine:
Mix vinegar, water, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to keep brine hot until ready to fill your jars.
3 - Preparing your Jars:
If using previously used jars, wash them in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place the jars into your water bath canner on top of the rack and add water. Turn on to high heat to bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. This will both sterilize and heat the jars so that the hot syrup will not "shock" and crack the jars.
4 - Prepare your Canning Zone
Place hot pad for brine on a clean surface.
Place a clean tea towel next to the hot pad - you will use this to place hot jars on to fill the jars.
Place bowl of carrots next to the clean tea towel.
Place bowls or garlic, dill, pickling spice, and cayenne near the jar zone.
Place canning funnel at the top of the tea towel.
Wet a clean dish cloth or paper towel with warm water and ring out. You will use this to wipe the rim of the jars before placing the lid on the jar.
Have tongs ready to lift the lids & rings out of the hot water on the stove.
Have a clean ladle ready to use to scoop brine into the jars.
Grab your canning jar lifter ready to remove jars from the water bath.
Use rings that are free of rust and blemishes. Wash & rinse rings and brand new canning lids (never re-use canning lids as they will not reseal well enough).
Place the required amount of rings and lids into a small saucepan. Add water to cover and heat over medium heat. You want your lids to be hot but not boiling. This will allow the rubbery seals on the lids to be pliable when putting the lids on your jars.
5 - Fill your Carrots
Place the hot brine saucepan on the hot pad.
Pull a hot jar from the water bath and place upright on the tea towel.
In the bottom of the jar, add dill, garlic cloves, pickling spice, and cayenne (optional).
Fill the jar with carrots by tilting the jar on an angle and placing carrots in upright position. Fill jar as tightly as you can with carrots up to the neck of the jar.
Place the canning funnel over the jar and fill the jar with hot brine up to about 3/4 inch from the top (around the bottom line of the rings on the jar).
Wipe the rim of the jars with your damp dishcloth or paper towel to remove any brine around the rim.
Centre your lid on the jar and screw on the ring to fingertip tight (not too tight).
Set jar aside and fill remaining jars.
7 - Water Bath Processing
Place filled jars back into the water bath canner of hot water. Make sure the water is high enough to cover the jars. Place lid on water bath canner and heat to a boil.
Once boiling, let boil for 10 minutes only (no longer or the carrots will get soft). Turn off heat and remove jars one at a time and place upright onto a clean tea towel to cool for 24 hours. You will start to hear the lids popping and they will continue to seal over the 24 hours period.
Check all the seals. Lids should curve downward if sealed. With carrots, you wouldn't want to re-process any jars that did not seal as the carrots will get soft with repeated boiling. Tuck any unsealed jars in the fridge and eat within a month or so.
8 - Labelling and Storage
Label your jars with the contents & the date of preparation. An easy way to label canning is on the lid since you won't use the lids again. Use permanent marker.
All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place. Use within 1 year for best quality.
Note that carrots will "pickle" over time and taste best after letting them sit for a couple of months before eating.