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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!


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®. For 9 years, Theresa was 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 sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.