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Can Jam – This month…CARROTS!

I am participating in Can Jam 2010, where each month, a group of bloggers can/preserve a specific food and write about it. The purpose of this project is to get more people excited about canning and to share recipes, tips and ideas. (Last month was citrus.)

This month is all about CARROTS!

Carrots I had big plans to try something unusual and different. I wanted to try something I had never canned before. Then the reality of a busy life knocked me on the side of the head and said, "NOT!"

The month got away from me. So, I had to revert to an old recipe from my archives.  But that is okay. I just grabbed one of my favorite fast and easy "quick pickle" recipes for Basil Carrots! YUM!

What I like about this recipe is how simple it is. See, most standard carrot recipes call for pressure canning because carrots are a low acid food. You cannot safely process carrots in a water-bath unless you acidify it (usually with vinegar). The can jam is all about water bath processing, so…I opted for a quick pickle.

Quick pickles are non-fermented fruits or veggies that are canned in a flavorful vinegar. They need to sit for a week or more before eating so that they absorb the flavorings. The longer they steep, the stronger the flavor. The best part…they are quick! Unlike marmalade or even jam recipes, there is no long cooking involved. Just heat everything up, pop it in a jar and process. What could be simpler than that!

Before I get to the recipe, I have a question for all you canners and want-to-be canners out there:

What canning & preserving recipes should be included on our new PBS show?

GGWLogo_from_FB I am in the process of developing the recipes I will be demonstrating on the new Growing A Greener World television series and I would love your input. The canning segments will be on a few of the episodes and also as "bonus material" on the website.

We decided that Growing A Greener World couldn't just talk about how to grow all those wonderful, organic vegetables without teaching the viewers how to preserve the flavor!

So, please take a moment and leave any and all suggestions in the comments below. I will be focusing on water bath canning for this first season. I will cover the basics, but I also have a few fun and unusual recipes up my sleeve to keep the experienced preservers engaged. So let me know your thoughts!

What things do you think we should teach our viewers about canning/preserving?

Now for the recipe…

Basil Carrots

This quick and easy recipe makes a crisp pickled carrot with a spicy basil flavor. I live in Los Angeles and actually have fresh basil growing in my garden at the moment. But if you don't have fresh basil, buy some at the store. Dried basil does not provide the same punch of flavor. Serve these quick pickles as appetizers with cheese and crackers…and a little wine wouldn't hurt either!

Ingredients:

6-7 half-pint sized canning jars

Approximately 2 lbs. fresh carrots

4 cups white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar

1 cup sugar

Fresh basil

Prepare jars and lids for water bath canning. Start heating the water in your canner. Wash and peel the carrots and cut them to fit inside the jars. Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch of head-space (the space from the top of the ingredients to the top of the jar). In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine vinegar and sugar. (I used white wine vinegar this time) Let this mixture come to a boil. Meanwhile, thinly slice the basil leaves in groups of three and add to each jar. Then pack in as many carrots as will comfortably fit into each jar.

After all the jars are packed, fill each jar with the boiling hot vinegar mixture. Leave a 1/2 inch head-space at the top of each jar. Run a spatula or wooden skewer around the sides of each jar to loosen any air bubbles. If necessary, add more vinegar mixture to maintain the 1/2 inch head-space.

Basilcarrots2 Wipe off the tops of the jars with a hot, wet dish towel. Then add the prepared lids and jar rings to each jar. Tighten the lids to just finger tight. Do not crank down on the lid too tightly.

At this point, you have the option of not processing the jars and storing them in the refrigerator. But they must be eaten within two weeks. For long term storage, the jars must be processed by the water bath canning method for 10 minutes.

Once the jars are processed, check the seals. Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within two weeks. Store the sealed jars in the pantry. Wait at least one week before eating so that they carrots will be well flavored.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.

17 Comments:

  • Nicole says:

    i think it would be nice to have the basics covered early on… for instance, as a novice, i had no idea that there were rules for acid and non-acid foods. i thought all things were canned equally, either by water bath or pressure! boy what a disaster that could have been. keeping it as financially friendly (i.e. the cheapest methods) would be nice too. can’t wait for the season to start!

  • Thanks Nicole for confirming what I was thinking. My first filming will be covering the difference between acid and low-acid foods and how to handle each. I think that is one of the most important parts when it comes to safety.

    Also, the videos will all be on the Growing A Greener World website so that people can find that basic important information whenever they want to follow one of my recipes.

    I can’t wait for the season to start too!!!

    ~Theresa

  • RJ Flamingo says:

    I love your carrots! Before this month’s Can Jam, I didn’t even know you could pickle carrots! Mine are somewhat similar to yours, but with dill, rather than basil.

    As a canning novice, there’s just too much I don’t know about the process, but I think perhaps tomato sauces and chutneys/relishes might make good subjects.

  • Thanks RJ-

    You are correct. Your carrots are very similar to mine. But I like that you used honey instead of sugar. You are doing great as a canning novice!

    Thanks for your comments about what to can for the show!

    I wonder what we will be assigned next month in the CanJam!
    ~Theresa

  • Catalina says:

    Wow! What beautifully color carrots! They really give a punch of color – nice job!

  • Mimi says:

    This recipe will probably be lifted (canlifted?) Wow, that looks yummy

  • Lift away Mimi! They are tasty.

    Thanks Catalina! I think I just got the light right when I took the photo. LOL

  • Neat, I’ve never seen canned carrots before.

    Since you are using homegrown basil, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at

    http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/02/announcing-grow-your-own-39.html

  • Julia says:

    Nice pickles! As for your question? I think the easiest, safest and most enticing for folks is to cover fruit–that is jams, most specifically. Who doesn’t want to preserve those summertime fruits for cold winter months? That’s how you get hooked into then delving into pickles, and so on. There’s my two cents!

  • laura sorensen says:

    Alton Brown has a very good recipe for pickling okra that actually seals itself — no water bath necessary. I made ’em last year for my husband (with farmers market okra) and he loved them.

    Okra is not for everyone (including me) but there are some okra lovers out there.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pickled-okra-recipe/index.html

  • Teresa says:

    Cool about the canned carrots! I’d never thought of doing that. Then again, they tend to keep fairly well in the ground (covered) or root cellar.

    Thanks to Laura for the pickled okra link! We grew okra one year, but no one else liked it except me…but if pickled, I’ll bet my whole family will eat it. 🙂

    As for what to show, maybe you can also talk about the latest research showing that steam canning is as safe as water bath for acidic foods. And a session on the ins and outs of pressure canners and canning would be great too! Thanks!

  • Carla Stempien says:

    I just read about your show and canning techniques. I have been canning for a while, but I have not been able to do potatoes..any advice? Also, I would like to know how to do a home-made babyfood. I have done fruit, but not vegetables. Thanks

  • Hi Carla,
    Thanks for visiting. I have only canned potatoes once and I didn’t care for how they turned out. You MUST use a pressure canner do potatoes and ANY other veggie (unless you are pickling). In order to keep the potatoes from discoloring, you add some ascorbic acid to the soaking water. Mine barely discolored, but I did not care for the texture.

    I did have success dehydrating some potatoes. We stored and then used for camping. It was great.

    If you want to make babyfood with veggies you MUST use a pressure canner and follow instructions to the T. A great place for proper and safe recipes is:
    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html

    I hope that helps you.

    thanks for stopping by and I hope you become a regular around here!
    ~Theresa

  • Marlene says:

    Regarding baby food, USDA guides and Ball Blue Book say to can your vegetables whole or cut up, and mash at serving time. Do not can pureed vegetables or meats as the heat may not penetrate equally throughout the jar. You don’t want to take any chances on your baby, do you?

    Regarding those okra pickles that Alton Brown showed? Not good! They should be processed in a waterbath canner for 10 minutes for pints. Just because you see somebody doing it on TV does not mean it is safe. On a recent show of cake boss, they showed canning spaghetti sauce without proper canning techniques, too. The fact that a jar seals, does not mean it is processed properly or safely. It only means the food was hot enough to form a vacuum in the jar. Just putting anything hot into a jar and putting a lid on it, it will seal. Initially. But will eventually unseal because it was not processed correctly. It can still develop bacteria and toxins in the food. ALL foods must be processed in either a waterbath canner (a BWB) or in a pressure canner (a PC). Steam canners (not pressure steam canners) are not approved for safe canning, either.

    For those new to canning, the best resources, and the first you should check out, are the USDA canning guides, available free at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html, the Ball Blue Book (the BBB) , and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Available in stores and most public libraries.

    Also, sign up on some canning Yahoo sited, like http://groups.yahoo.com/group/home_canning or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreativeCanningCuisine. Lots of info and help on those. Those two groups follow the USDA guidelines for canning.

    • theresa says:

      Hi Marlene,

      You are ABSOLUTELY correct on all counts. I did not check out the Alton Brown recipe that was mentioned in the comments so I am glad you said something. It makes me so angry when I see TV shows doing dangerous things. I saw a canning segment on the Martha Stewart show that was down right dangerous. And she should know better!

      I am a certified master food preserver and I recommend the same USDA guideline all the time (here and elsewhere on my blogs). It is the go to place for sure.

      Thanks for commenting!

      ~Theresa

  • Antonette says:

    I’ve no idea how old this post is–but here goes. Learning to can myself–I’ve had struggles with the whole sea level elevation thing. I made pickles using a recipie from the East Coast, and converted the hot water bath processing time to my elevation. The pickles tasted fine, but were so sadly, incomprehensibly, made-me-not-want-to-eat-them-but-I-will-because-I-will-not-waste-organic-food-from-the-garden soggy, I’m not sure I want to make them or any other pickle again. Jams and applesauce–are more forgiving…So a better explanation on the elevation and timing would be insanely welcomed in my house. (And no I have to search for your show to watch the back episodes!)

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