Black Pepper and Cumin Pickled Carrots

Pickled Carrots with Cumin and Black Pepper

Black pepper and cumin are two things that I can never have enough of.

Pickles, on the other hand, I can usually do with a lot less of. Or, you know, none. None’s fine. Pickles live in the part of my brain labeled yuck.

I was talking to my friend Bill and mentioned my dislike for pickled things. The conversation went a bit like this after my confession:

“Do you like vinegar?”
“Do you like sugar?”
“Do you like salt?”
“Do you like vegetables?”
“Well, then you like all that stuff together. You like pickles.”


It’s sort of embarrassing to be really into food but dislike things that are wildly popular. (We’ve discussed my dislike of garlic previously, but that’s another post. And a lost cause.) Every so often I revisit my blacklist and see if anything on it can be crossed off. Oftentimes I try to overcome my dislikes by forcing myself to try them in new ways until something starts to click.

Cumin and Black Pepper

My conversation with Bill rattled around in my head for a bit and I realized that he’s probably right. I would probably like pickles, provided they were made in a way I liked, with spices I’m fond of. Skip the dill, get rid of the garlic, and maybe, to be safe, start with something that isn’t a cucumber. Baby steps. Pickle therapy.

Fresh CuminNow, a note on spices. Do you have whole spices at home? Are they sort of fresh? I like whole spices, but I am guilty of letting them sit for longer than they should. Think about what’s in your rack right now and be honest — when was the last time you replaced stuff? Did you purchase them from somewhere that has high-turnover, or had they been sitting for months before you brought them home?

If you want to get back on the fresh spice train, and don’t think your local stores have anything worth investing in, find yourself a quality spice store that takes online orders. I have used The Spice House back in my home state of Illinois for years and am always impressed with their stuff.

It’s good to have fresh cumin, but please please please tell me you are using whole peppercorns, in a grinder. If I could only have one whole spice in my house it would absolutely be black pepper. Pre-ground pepper is sad. Fresh, whole peppercorns are amazing. Swoon-worthy. Get some.

Okay, enough yapping. On to the recipe. I was heavily influenced by this post by David Lebovitz during my carrot pickle research, so many thanks to him and his informative post.

Pickled Carrots
For a 1 pint jar

1 Pound Carrots (about 5-6), peeled and chopped as described
1 1/4 Cups Water
1 Cup Vinegar (cider, white wine, etc)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Whole Cumin Seeds
1 Tbs Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Bay Leaves (optional)

Pickling Spices

Mix together your picking spices and set aside. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.


One pound of carrots is roughly equivalent to 5 or 6 large carrots. If you have a choice, pick out fewer large, thick carrots as opposed to more thin carrots. Thicker carrots will be much easier to chop up.

Chopping Carrots

After your carrots are peeled, stand one up in your jar and chop it to 1 or 1 1/2 inches from the rim. Use this piece of a carrot as a template to chop all the carrots down to the correct size.

Chopping Carrots

Once all your carrots are the correct size, chop each piece in half lengthwise to give a nice sturdy base (carrot above, on the left). With a large, sharp chef’s knife (bigger is easier for this task), begin slicing the carrots lengthwise into 1/8 or 1/16 inch thicknesses. You don’t have to go crazy or be a perfectionist. You want them thin enough to take to the picking liquid, but thick enough to retain crunch.

Chopped Carrots

Once all the carrots are chopped, drop them into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. You do not want to over-cook them, you just want to loosen them up a bit so they can take to the pickling easier.

Drain the carrots well, and add the remaining ingredients to the hot pan. Bring to a simmer and let cook on low for another 2-3 minutes.


Add the blanched carrots to the liquid and let sit until room temperature, or at least cool enough to handle.

Jarring the pickles

With VERY clean hands, load up the pickles into your jar.

Jarring the pickles

Pour the picking liquid and all the spices into the jar.

Place your jar in the fridge. They will be ready to eat in 24 hours, and should keep for a good two weeks. They are great with your favorite vegan cheese and crackers, mixed into salad, with tacos, in sushi, falafel, or on their own.

They are pretty damn good. If I like them, you probably will, too.

By the way, as an experiment, I used a tiny bit of the hot pickling liquid and poured it over freshly sliced cucumbers. That works, too, and they remain crisp. The liquid should work with just about anything you have on hand!

Jarring the pickles


  1. michelleleanne

    As someone who also failed to get on the pickle train until recently, I’m pretty stoked to try these out… and even more stoked about the lack of dill involved. These are next weeks project for sure :)

  2. Vivacious Vegan

    I have to say I am a lover of pickles, but I am not fond of midwesterners call pickles….I hate kosher dills with a passion. I want a sturdy.super tart dill pickle that makes me pucker, call it the german girl in me, or blame my childhood being forced to eat perfect dark green homemade pickles. I love about anything pickled, especially carrots if they are brined in a super spicy brine. Okra is my favorite type of pickle though!
    Thanks Lolo, for sharing your recipe with us!

  3. Shannon @ Louisville Lady Gourmet

    I will be trying this out immediately! Black pepper and cumin sounds absolutely delicious as a pickle. As for pickled okra, mentioned above, I had it pickled with clove once and that seriously changed my life (the whole jar lasted about half an hour!).
    Thanks again!

  4. Tiff

    Like you, I also revist my “blacklist” of things I don’t like to see if I reallly don’t like them. Like Brussels sprouts. How do people actually really like something that is so bitter? I don’t actually hate them, I just acknowledge that they’re really bitter & continue to dip them into some delicious sauce because I know they’re good for me. Or watercress. So bitter, but I just keep eating them to see how I really feel about them.

    This recipe is pretty awesome!! Pickled carrots with cumin, very interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like that before! Plenty of pickled carrots in my lifetime, but not with a cumin taste. Whole spices, amen to that! Thanks for sharing. :D

  5. Eileen

    Yay, you’re back! Also, yay pickles! I’ve totally been meaning to make carrot pickles of the spicy taqueria variety–but now I need some of these too, and maybe some pickled jalapenos, and dilly beans, and and and and. PICKLES.

  6. Michael

    Just made these. Now in the ‘wait 24 hours’ phase.

    Only came up against one issue…. What are the ‘remaining ingredients’? I had included the sugar with the pickling spices, but then realised the picture was most likely salt, not sugar….

    Are the remaining ingredients the water, vinegar AND the sugar, or just the water and the vinegar?

    • Lolo

      Hi Michael! Sorry if the directions are unclear. Basically everything needs to be put together by some point, and the order isn’t super important. The photo shows the salt and sugar mixed together. If I had phrased it better, I would have said something like, “drain the carrots, and add the salt, pepper, cumin, bay, sugar, vinegar, and water to the hot pan.” You want the salt and sugar to dissolve and the spices to begin flavoring the brine before adding the carrots back in. Hope they turn out!

      • Michael

        Excellent, thanks for that. And yes, they were lovely. I’m making more tonight, so I can give the wild mushroom recipe a go over the weekend.

        I’ve never understood why someone would eat a pickle before now.

  7. Blessedmama

    Aaaaahhhh, I can’t believe you’re back. I kept checking about once a month, my hope dimming fainter and fainter and … Oh, yes the recipe for the carrots looks fabulous, for sure. But the best thing is…YOU ARE BACK! Yay.

  8. veganlinda

    Glad you are back. I didn’t realize you are from Illinois. Cool! :-) I don’t have many foods on my blacklist, but I do try to get out of food ruts. My eldest is a pickle fiend and would probably adore these carrots.

  9. Fran

    HOORAY!!! SHE’S BACK!!! I discovered your dormant blog last year as I was transitioning from meat-eater to vegan. I so enjoy your cookbook, Lolo–especially your Smoky Miso Tofu. Dear Lord. I bought a Silpat baking mat just for that, and I have no regrets.

    SO, you’re from Illinois?! I know where the Spice House is! Did you frequent the one in Evanston or Chicago? Or Geneva (if you’re one of the poor souls who didn’t grow up in the Chicagoland area)?

  10. KZCakes

    I love the spice house! I recognized that bottle right away haha. I have many many of their spices. Sometimes online ordering is easier when youre not in the mood to go scavenger hunting for every spice under the sun

  11. J

    Wow. I cannot fathom a cook who does not like garlic, since it is one of the most fundamental ingredients in savory cuisine from virtually every region of the world. How on earth do you sample ethnic food and simultaneously avoid garlic? Well I give you credit for cooking with cilantro at least.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>