Cocktail Carrots are super easy to make and take only a couple hours to pickle in the fridge. Make them earlier in the day and you have an instant appetizer to offer your guests while dinner cooks.
By Maya Parson
I used to eat at a place that served a little dish of Moroccan spiced carrots alongside its sandwiches. The sandwiches were excellent, but I would have eaten there for the coriander and cumin flavored carrots alone.
I started pickling my own carrots with those spiced carrots in mind. One day I accidentally dumped caraway instead of cumin seeds into the brine. It was a happy accident—the pickles were delicious.
It was also a good lesson: carrots are like the little black dress of the vegetable world. They can be basic and uninspired, but with the right “accessories,” they are smashing.
I make these “Cocktail Carrots” regularly with garlic, oregano and hot chilies, but I also love them with cumin, caraway, or fennel. You can mix up the spices however you like. (I’ve offered several variations below.) Crunchy, spicy, and a little bit sweet, they are terrific for serving with cocktails or beer, or for garnishing a Bloody Mary.
The best part? Cocktail Carrots are super easy to make and take only a couple hours to pickle in the fridge. Make them earlier in the day and you have an instant appetizer to offer your guests while dinner cooks.
- 1 cup (236 milliliters) water
- ¾ cup white vinegar (177 milliliters)
- 2 Tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
- Carrots cut into 4-inch lengths to fill jar (about 5 medium-sized)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) sliced hot red pepper or ¼ teaspoon (1/2 gram) chili flakes
- 1 sprig fresh oregano or ¼ teaspoon (1/2 gram) dried. (Variation: ½ teaspoon [1 gram] cumin, caraway OR coriander seeds in place of oregano. Or try a cinnamon stick or piece of star anise.)
- ½ teaspoon (4 grams) fennel seeds
- 1 3-inch (76 millimeter) strip of lemon peel
- To make brine, bring water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a simmer.
- Remove from heat.
- Place seasonings and carrots into jar.
- Cover with hot brine.
- Cover and let cool at room temperature for about an hour, then refrigerate.
- Pickles must soak in brine at least 2 hours and preferably about 4-5 before eating.
- They will become more strongly flavored (and softer) the longer they soak.
- When you’ve eaten them all (it will happen faster than you think!), save the brine and reuse it for another batch!
Maya Parson entered the world of food journalism as an ice cream taste tester for her local newspaper at age eight. She later pursued a career in cultural anthropology – happily feasting on farm cheeses, fresh corn tortillas and a lot of rice and beans during her field research in Central America. Maya eventually settled in the other “central America” – the U.S. Midwest – where she enjoys cooking with farm-fresh foods and writing about food, culture and the culinary arts. She is the editor of Edible Michiana Magazine and can also be found on her blog, Cultured Grub.