Butterfly effect: Pickled carrots

Today, I swapped a ginormous eggplant (I’m sure it wasn’t, but it seemed as big as my head) for an extra bunch of gorgeous carrots, precisely so I could pickle them once I got home.

Mrs. Peel

I knew I had a couple robust dill plants that had volunteered their way from my balcony last year into my nasturtium bed.

At least I did when I left for work this morning.

Sadly, when I stepped into the yard to snip off a few fronds and flowers to tuck into the jar, my dill was gone. And so was my parsley.

The same thing had happened last August, when I lost nearly all my tender herbs – cilantro, parsley, dill, fennel, and lovage (which are all, ironically, in the carrot family), wiped out in the span of just a few days.

A handful of these guys wiped out a half dozen dill and two parsley plants in a single day.
This guy and a handful of his buddies wiped out a half dozen dill and two parsley plants today.

Blasted black swallowtail caterpillars.

Oh well. I’d already cut the carrots into sticks and had the brine boiling, so dried dill seed would have to do.

Pickled carrot sticks

Let the size of your jar guide how you trim your carrots – and how much brine you make. Note that you can refrigerate any extra and use it later for beets, cucumber slices, or whatever suits your fancy. Some people cook their carrots first. I don’t – I like them crunchy – but go ahead if you want to.

  • 1 bunch of carrots, washed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4-5 tbsp honey, to taste
  • 1 tbsp pickling salt (Kosher will do just fine)
  • 1 tbsp dill seeds (if you use fresh, just add the chopped fronds and maybe a flower to the jar before you jam the carrots in)

1.  Sterilize a jar (and a lid) into which the carrots will fit snuggly.

2.  Cut the carrots into sticks, and trim them to a uniform height that’ll leave at least a half-inch head space in the jar.


3.  Combine remaining ingredients (unless you’re using fresh dill) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, pack the carrot sticks tightly into your jar.


5. Pour the brine over the carrots.

6. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate.

Wait at least a day or two for the brine to penetrate. Then you’ve got a month to enjoy them as a side, chopped into a salad, or tucked into a sandwich.

Carrot refrigerator pickles, in situ.
Carrot refrigerator pickles, in situ.

As for the caterpillars, I’m hoping they’ll stay in the lot next door, where I relocated them tonight. I’m willing to sacrifice a plant or two for the future butterflies, but I it’d be nice if they left me a little greenery of my own.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    You’re a good soul to relocate the caterpillars! I like to add some hot pepper to the pickling.

  2. Susan says:

    Squeamish duty, for sure, but I bucked up. At least they’re not as ugly as tomato horn worms!

    1. Ted Crawshaw says:

      Glad you got the things removed from your garden. The readers should know – you are the one that in elementary school we kept a chrysalis in your house over the summer? Thanks to Mrs. Warner and Todd School.

      1. Susan says:

        You are correct, sir. Cracks me up that a Penn State extension rep once counseled me to interplant dill with tomatoes to keep hornworms at bay. Pick your pest, I guess.

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