D is for Daikon Carrot Pickles

Spicy Daikon Carrot Pickles

It’s month four of my personal veggie challenge, in which I am learning to appreciate vegetables by getting better acquainted with least one of them every month. Somehow my challenge guidelines morphed into an alphabet thing, so here’s what we’ve had so far:

A is for Artichoke (Artichoke Soup)

B is for Bok Choy (Soba Noodle Salad with Bok Choy)

C is for Celery (Celery Citrus Salad)

This month’s task was brought to me by the letter “D.” There aren’t a lot of vegetables that begin with the fourth letter of the alphabet! (Remember, I’m trying to use the root letter, not the letter assigned to individual varieties — for example, “dinosaur kale” would be a “K” veggie.) According to the list I’ve been using, my choices this month were two: daikon or dandelion.

First, is dandelion a vegetable? Seems like it’s really a flowering plant — a.k.a. weed — that can be used like a vegetable, especially its greens and roots. There are some amazing things to do with dandelion. I was looking at the list of recipes here and here, plus this post from Ramblings of a Gypsy Nomad that includes dandelion jam, dandelion fritters, and dandelion calzone! Also, Hank at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook wants to remind you to Eat Your Lawn, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

But now I’m digressing, because you don’t see any dandelions in this post, right? I am going to see what I can do about finding some dandelions before the rest of the weeds in my neighborhood get whacked, but my job this month was daikon — an Asian radish that looks like a gigantic white carrot — because we were all out of pickles at our house.

I’ve never used daikon for anything before, but plenty of other people have made pickles like these. (I hope you will bear with me if these pickles are a big yawn for you. I was excited!) I went right to the Tigress to suss out a recipe round-up from last year’s Can Jam, and there I found many versions from which to choose. (Were you a can jammer last year? Have you been back to use any of the monthly round-up lists? Each one is a tremendous resource for canning recipes.)

Daikon carrot pickles are usually based on a classic Vietnamese quick pickle relish called “do chua.” My version is a spicy hybrid, inspired primarily by Marisa at Food in Jars and Nina at Put Up or Shut Up! In this little bowl, there’s plenty of fresh ginger — if you know how to grate ginger without grating your thumb along with it, will you please share? — plus red chile flakes, black peppercorn, and lots of coriander . . .

I was going to make just a small batch, but then I thought: Why? We don’t want to run out of pickles again. I filled some small jars for gifts, too. They’re pretty. They’re also kinda smelly. I was warned and now you are, too — pickled daikon smells cooked-cabbage-funky, but the taste will put you past that.

Spicy Daikon Carrot Pickles

2 pounds daikon, sliced into thin rounds
2 pounds carrots, sliced into thin rounds
3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity to ensure safety)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1. Sterilize your jars.

2. Wash, peel, and slice the daikon and carrots. (I used a mandoline slicer for the first time ever. What took me so long?)

3. Peel and grate the ginger and combine with the rest of the spices in a small bowl.

4. In a large, nonreactive sauce pot (an 8-quart pot would be a good size), combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the daikon and carrots, turn off the heat, and stir well to combine the ingredients. (At this point, I had a moment where I thought I had way too many veggies and not enough brine, but then everything settled down. The ratio of veggies to liquid turned out to be just right.)

5. Pack the veggies into the sterilized jars and cover with brine, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Use a small silicone spatula or chopstick to remove air bubbles from the jar. Wipe the rims and add the lids.

6. Process 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

Yields about 5 pints o’ pickles

Next month will be about the letter “E,” and it should be interesting because the heavy hitter (almost the only hitter) on the “E” list is a vegetable I don’t like one bit. Can’t wait.

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19 comments to D is for Daikon Carrot Pickles

  • I don’t know if I can find Daikon here, although I am continuously surprised by what I find at the Farmer’s Market here. I do however want to make carrot pickles this year. I’m starting to realize that I spend more time missing veggies in the winter than I do berries and such. I think I am going to try and put up more of them this year.

    • Shae

      Nicole, if you feel desperate for daikon, I could always put a few in a bag and bring them to you later this month. Time is running out on orders from the SF Bay Area! I can’t believe we’ll be up there in just a few weeks. Gulp!

  • this post makes me very happy. it’s so fun to see you pickling AND enjoying veggies. are you absolutely sure that photo up there is sans thumbs? :)

    • Shae

      The thumbs didn’t get into any of the jars that I’ll give away, I’m pretty sure of it. You’re a big part of my veggie & pickles inspiration, you know — so thanks!

  • Look at those happy jars! This reminded me that I haven’t pickled a thing in a looong time. I’ll have to change that as of now!

  • Kat

    Wow, I haven’t pickled anything in a long time, too! One of the first things that I EVER made (in terms of preserving) was daikon/carrot quick pickles.
    And: if E is for Eggplant…Do you not like eggplant?!

    • Shae

      Kat, yes, eggplant is the big “E” for me — and I really dislike it. It’s too often mushy and slimy. But I’m sure I can find something to do with it that I’d like. Right?

  • spoons

    freeze the ginger. i keep a stock of ginger in the freezer all the time in case of picklikng emergencies. grate it skin and all. works g-r-e-a-t.

    • Shae

      Spoons, that’s a great idea! I often get too much ginger and find it, later, sad and shriveled in my crisper drawer. I just need to remember to put it in the freezer. (When you say grate it skin and all, I assume you don’t mean your own skin. That’s my problem. I’m always grating my knuckles.)

  • Dandelions are amazing! When I can get them in the spring I use them as I would spinach or kale (any bitter green). I tried growing Italian dandys in pots, but their long tap root makes it difficult unless you have really large pots. Beware the “wild” dandys in your yard or your neighbors’…pesticides and herbicides are generally a problem (even if in your yard you don’t use them, the runoff from your neighbors’ yards may affect yours).

    I urge you to try them, they are really very good and versatile.

    • Shae

      Thanks, Beth! I am definitely going to get on the dandelion train. If enough grew “wild” on our property, I’d use them without concern because we’re really not positioned to catch anyone else’s runoff — smack up against an undeveloped hillside — but we only have a few out there. (Honestly, I’m mostly glad about that. They’re a bear to keep down.) I’m sure there are places to forage/harvest “clean” dandys, but I take your caution to heart and will be careful about it. Do you grow them intentionally?

  • I used to hate eggplant too until I started making a “roasted” caponata with other veges. It is like a relish and sooo good. After that I found a wonderful eggplant parmesan that is crispy and full of tomatoey goodness along with the gooey cheese.

    • Shae

      I think relish or something like baba ghanoush might be the way to go, though I have to say that enough cheese can fix just about anything!

  • Well, you know how I feel about pickles, but they certainly *look* lovely. :) And I’m with you on the grater; deadly. Somehow I am safer with the Microplane. I refuse to buy a mandoline because… shudder. If I can mangle myself with a box grater, imagine what a mandoline can do?

    As for the dreaded eggplant, I’m not a fan, and Tai HATES it. But, we get it in our CSA every year so I’ve had to come up with a few recipes. He’ll eat my baba ganoush (adapted from David Lebovitz) and we both really like a roasted tomato & eggplant soup (adapted from Martha Stewart via Smitten).

  • They look beautiful and spicy sweet. Nice work!

  • Hello! Thank you for posting the links to the recipes on my blog! I just adore your blog. I’m learning SO much as well as this is my first time to do canning by myself.

  • [...] recipes I used during this particular pickling session were for dilly beans, sweet and spicy daikon and carrot pickles, and dill pickles. We also threw some garlic and some cherry tomatoes into leftover brine. For the [...]

  • [...] add a bright punch of flavour to every bite and when I got home I immediately googled to find a recipe to replicate [...]

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