Don’t judge me, but I don’t eat raw carrots. I used to, but I don’t anymore.
Dial back six years, and I had an addiction for them. A juicy novel and a bag of carrot sticks, were one of my most favorite ways to luxuriate my way through my son’s afternoon nap. The wet, juicy carrot sticks were my favorite; even better with a handful of raisins thrown in the bag to plump from them moisture. Healthy, crunchy, and satisfying snack heaven. And then one sad day my carrot nirvana ended.
I had been working my way an entire bag of my snacktime vegetables, and realized my mouth was itching, and my throat felt tight, I was struggling to breathe. Carrot sticks left me nearly breathless. I realized the same thing was happening with a few other raw foods. Realizing I had some freakish and dangerous symptoms, I took to the internet and diagnosed myself with oral allergy syndrome. My doctor said, “Huh? Never heard of it,” and passed me on to an allergist who was delighted to confirm my diagnosis, gushing: “Wow, we don’t see this too often.” My days of pleasure carrot stick eating were over. And add in raw broccoli, soy, nuts and a few other occasionals.
Frankly, it felt wrong to me. How could someone who wants to eat healthy, suddenly have to skip the crudites platter for health reasons. Seriously, it makes me look like a hypocrite at ever social function. So is life.
There is a way to still enjoy all of those problem foods, cook them. Goodbye carrot sticks. Zapping them in the microwave or blanching them for a quick snack makes them warm and sucks the joy out of grabbing something cold and crisp from the fridge at will.
But then I remembered something this summer when I was in Costa Rica. We were at a little roadside restaurant, waiting for our dinner, when the waitress brought my husband and I a jar of escabeche. The jar was a beauty, packed tight with chayote, carrots, cauliflower, and peppers in a spicy, vinegary brine. The vegetables were cold, crisp and quick pickled. And I
could eat ate all of them. Except for the few I shared with my husband. Eureka! I had my answer for my carrot problem. The quick pickle. Quick pickling requires no heat, just some salt, vinegar and a little forethought. The process of pickling changes the chemistry insomuch that the carrot isn’t raw anymore, yet it isn’t traditionally cooked; crunchiness is uncompromised. Hallelujah.
Once I got settled back home and in my kitchen I made up a jar, and then made a few more after that. Finally I can have my carrots and eat them too.
Quick Pickled Carrots
1 lb. carrots, cut into sticks
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups warm water
4 cloves of garlic
3 T. sea salt
a handful of fresh dill or 1 T. dill seeds or 1 T. dried dill
Dissolve salt into warm water and vinegar. Gently crush the garlic cloves, keeping them whole, but smashed, and add to the liquid along with the dill. Fill a large jar (or several smaller jars) with the carrots. Pack them in tightly, and pour in the liquid. Store in the refrigerator. Allow carrots to pickle for at least one hour before serving. Pickled carrots will keep for weeks in the fridge, and you can make more by adding more carrots to the brine filled jar.