|Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme
2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for topping jars
2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 (5- to 6-inch) sprigs fresh thyme
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
Heaping 1 ½ teaspoons salt
Heaping 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 ½ pounds small (finger-size) carrots, or standard-size carrots, cut into sticks about ½-inch wide and 3 inches long
In medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup vinegar.
Put the carrots in a large, heatproof bowl and pour warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.
While carrots cool, wash 2 quart-size canning jars and lids in warm, soapy water.
When carrots and brine are cool, distribute carrots evenly among jars, arranging them snugly. (Hands and fingers work best; tongs make a mess.) Using a ladle, divide the brine evenly among jars. The carrots should be completely covered by brine. If they aren't, add a mix of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.
Seal firmly and refrigerate at least 3 days, preferably a week; carrots are dense and take time to absorb brine. Makes 2 quarts. – Orangette