Quick pickled carrot ribbons can add tangy flavor, crunch, and a bright pop of orange color to salads, bowls, and sandwiches. If you love the flavor of pickled vegetables, this is an easy and fun variation to try!
If you’ve ever made quick pickled onions, or if you make them regularly, then you may have had the experience of realizing what a high benefit-cost ratio they have.
By this, I just mean that the flavor and complexity that pickled onions will add to dishes is really high.
Want to add depth to an otherwise simple green salad?
Bring some tangy, savory flavor to your avocado toast?
Add the flavor of onion to a veggie burger without the aggressiveness and spice of raw onion?
Quick pickled onions to the rescue.
For all of their usefulness, the amount of time and effort that pickled onions require is very low. So there’s a lot of payoff without a lot of work.
I want to share a couple other pickled veggies that have been bringing brightness and flavor to many dishes in my home, just as pickled onions do.
The first is these quick pickled carrot ribbons. If you love pickled things, love carrots, love a little tanginess or crunch, then these simply prepared vegetables are for you.
What are quick pickled carrot ribbons?
Quick pickled carrot ribbons are very thinly sliced—shaved, really—pieces of carrot that have been quick pickled.
“Quick pickles” are also known as refrigerator pickles. Essentially, these are pickles that are created by marinating vegetables in a brine of water, vinegar, and salt. They don’t require a canning bath.
This means that quick pickles can’t be sealed and shelf-stable for months at a time. You prepare them, transfer them to the fridge, and eat them within a couple weeks.
On the other hand, these types of pickles are much less labor-intensive than pickles that ultimately enter the canning process.
And in my experience, pickled vegetables are so enjoyable that it’s easy to finish them within that two week time period.
Why pickle, anyway?
What’s the purpose of pickling?
Flavor, first and foremost. Quick pickled carrots will have a pleasantly tangy, salty flavor that’s a departure from the natural sweetness that they offer when they’re eaten raw.
Storage time, second of all. Quick pickled carrot ribbons will keep in the fridge longer than raw, grated carrots. More time in which to enliven your salads, sandwiches, and bowls.
Finally, texture. These pickled carrot ribbons are a little more tender than raw carrot ribbons would be. At the same time, they still have some crunch. Think of them as a pleasant midpoint between raw and cooked.
Carrot health benefits
I’m obviously excited about the way these carrots taste and all of the potential that they offer in dishes. But I love the health properties of carrots, too.
Famously, carrots are a source of beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is linked to protecting healthy vision.
Carrots also contain an antioxidant, lutein, which may play a role in preventing macular degeneration and vision loss with age.
Along with these nutrients, carrots are a good source of Vitamin K and a source of Vitamin C. They’re rich in fiber, too, which is associated with digestive and cardiac health.
How to prepare quick pickled carrot ribbons
The steps for making quick pickled carrots are nice and straightforward. Here they are.
Step 1: shave your carrot ribbons
There’s no fancy tool or piece of culinary equipment that you need to create the “ribbons” in this recipe.
You need only to lay your carrot flat on a surface and use a regular vegetable peeler to create long, thin shavings.
You’ll need about 3 medium carrots in order to create enough ribbons to fill a pint-sized mason jar.
Step 2: place the ribbons into a pickling container
Speaking of mason jars, I use 16-ounce jars with wide mouths for my pickled vegetables at home.
You can also use smaller-sized glass containers. Just be sure that you fill them with vegetables only so much that there’s a little head space at the top of the jars.
Step 3: create your pickling fluid
Technically speaking, pickling fluid for refrigerator pickles, or quick pickles, can be cold. However, I think the pickling process is faster when a hot brine is used.
In the next step, then, you’ll heat water, vinegar, salt and a touch of cane sugar. This mixture is poured over the carrot ribbons in order to pickle them.
Very often, I also add mustard seeds to my quick pickles. I think it adds a touch of spice and complexity! The addition is completely optional.
Step 4: submerge the vegetables in pickling fluid
This step is simple: just pour hot pickling fluid over the carrot ribbons.
Step 5: store
At this point, the pickled carrots will be ready to eat in as little as 30 minutes. They can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.
What should I do with my pickled carrot ribbons?
There’s really no right or wrong way to enjoy these flavorful carrots.
Me? I’ve been using them on sandwiches, first and foremost. Grated carrots fall out of sandwiches easily, whereas these ribbons stay put. They add instant flavor and good nutrition.
The ribbons are also lovely in lunchtime grain bowls or salads. Here are a few of the summer salads I’d like to add them to:
- Creamy macaroni salad
- Protein-packed bean and quinoa salad
- Tofu feta kale salad
- Spinach rice salad
- Chickpea Greek salad
I’d also like to try my favorite chickpea carrot couscous salad with pickled carrots, rather than grated.
Meal prep & storage
Once you prepare the quick pickled carrot ribbons, you can store them in the same jar or container that you used to pickle them.
I don’t recommend freezing the carrots, as their texture will change with defrosting.
But again, the carrots will keep for about 2 weeks in your fridge. This means that they’re a great option for weekly meal prep.
Remember: minimal work, big payoff! Here’s the full recipe.
- 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and trim
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
- 3/4 cup water (180ml)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, or unseasoned rice vinegar (120ml)
- 2 teaspoons cane sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Place a carrot onto a flat work surface. Working lengthwise and with firm pressure, use the peeler to slice the carrot into long, thin ribbons. Repeat this process with all carrots. Place the carrot ribbons into a 1-pint/480ml mason jar. Add the mustard seeds, if using.
Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a heatproof liquid measuring cup. Pour this mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat, or microwave the mixture for 2 1/2 minutes. .
Pour the hot pickling liquid over the ribbons in the jar. Submerge them completely.
Allow the ribbons to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Use right away, or cover the jar tightly with a lid and store in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Friends, I have a steady accumulation of recipes that I keep intending, and failing, to post. The weeks just get away from me lately.
But post them I will, and for now, I hope this very simple recipe brings some brightness to your summer plates and bowls. Enjoy!