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Recipe of the Week: Pickled Carrots and Cauliflower

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The Technique- Why is picking so awesome?

Pickling is such a genius recipe technique because it takes ordinary fruits and veggies and with a little vinegar, salt, and time (or thyme) makes them delicious and crave-able. You’d never eat an entire head of raw cauliflower, no matter how rough the break up was, but once it’s pickled, you’ll find it hard to stop eating! This makes pickles a great way to use up stray or extra veggies and fall back in love with your staples. The tangy crunch of a good pickle is the perfect accent to your next road trip, picnic, or family outing!

The Recipe- Here’s one way to start!

Ingredients- You will need: 

  • 1 lb Imperfect cauliflower, cut into small florets (use whatever variety/color of cauliflower you have around)
  • 1 lb Imperfect carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (regular, rainbow, or baby carrots work equally well)
  • 2½ c white distilled vinegar
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • ¾ c water
  • ¼ c kosher salt
  • ¼ c yellow mustard seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp red chile flakes
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • 1 Imperfect lemon, sliced
  • ¼ c juice from the above lemon
  • 1 bay leaf, torn
  • 1 thyme sprig

Instructions- Here’s how you get pickling: 

  • In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and carrots. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil. Heat and gently stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, then pour the mixture over the carrots and cauliflower.
  • Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to quart containers.
  • If you’re not going to eat them all in one sitting, place lids on your pickles and refrigerate for up to a month.
  • Kitchen Tip: If you have a sharpie and masking tape, label and date the batch. This will help you prevent waste by giving you a clearer sense of how much time you have to enjoy your pickles at their peak!

Variations- Here are other ideas to try!

  • Experiment with the spice blend to find the mix that works best with the produce. Cauliflower tastes great with some turmeric and curry powder. Carrots pair well with sweet spices like a few pieces of cloves or star anise. Fennel gets extra sweet and “fennely” when you throw in some fennel seeds into the brine. The more you pickle, the more you’ll learn which veggies and spice combos you like best!
  • Seasonings tell your tongue where you are in the world, so use your pickle seasonings to take you on a pickle adventure! A few dried chiles and a pinch of Mexican oregano can take you to Mexico, rice wine vinegar plus some thinly shredded ginger will take you to Japan,  while some dill, juniper berries, and garlic will take you to Eastern Europe.
  • Sweet or savory? It’s up to you! One thing you’ll notice if you binge read pickle recipes like the Hunger Games (just us?) is that they vary WIDELY on the ratio between sugar and salt and water and vinegar. All you need to take away from this is that you have the power to decide how sweet or savory you want your pickles to be, as well as how tangy you’d like them. Some people love sweet pickles while some prefer them salty, spicy, or garlicky, and that’s totally fine. You’ll zero in on your personal pickle nirvana, each time you adjust the type of vinegar you use, how much water you dilute it with, and the amount of salt and sugar in the brine. There’s a pickle out there for everyone!


  • Kath
    August 10, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Is it possible to use sugar-free sweeteners when making the pickles?

    • Imperfect Foods
      August 11, 2020 at 3:50 pm

      Yep, certainly possible! You can adjust the amounts to taste based on which sweetener you prefer.


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