Difficulty Level Easy
YIELD 3 or 4 pint jars.
You know that you are at the height of asparagus season when it's not just the farmers' market with it in stock, but every store you walk into has huge displays of it and it's on every restaurant menu. I love asparagus and I make it most days while it's in season. By the time the season is finished, I think my husband is pretty happy to see the end of it. This year, I decided to do some pickling so I could have some spring flavour in the depth of next winter.
My son was over for dinner the other night and he has yet to be involved in any of the canning and preserving I've been doing since last year. He was very enthusiastic about learning how to make pickles even though he doesn't like them. I guess I'll have to get him into jam making.
When you make this recipe, snap off the tough ends of the asparagus as you would normally and discard. Then measure the asparagus in a pint jar and be sure that you leave at least 1/2 below the lid. Then cut the rest of the asparagus to the same length and reserve the bottom pieces for another use. I'll give you two more recipes this week to use up the asparagus bits. We had a little bit more than 3 pint jars worth so I put the remaining asparagus tips in the vinegar and put it in the refrigerator. You are supposed to let it sit for a month before you use it, but of course, I had to sneak a bit yesterday. They aren't ready yet, but they are going to be fantastic when they are.
A little trick to make it easier to pack asparagus, green beans or cucumbers into the jar is to lay it on the side. It keeps the vegetables straight and it's easier to tuck in a bit more than if the jar is upright. I noticed in this recipe that it says you can run the jars through the dishwasher and that you don't need to sterilize them. I have the book Well Preserved that this recipe comes from and the author actually suggests sterilizing the jars for 10 minutes for all of the water bath recipes. Personally, I prefer to sterilize them rather than trust the dishwasher.
|5 pounds||asparagus, thin to medium-thick|
|2 ¼ cups||distilled white or white wine vinegar (labeled at least 5 percent acidity)|
|2||garlic cloves, slivered|
|1 teaspoon||dill seed (optional)|
|¼ teaspoon||hot pepper flakes|
|¼ teaspoon||whole allspice (optional)|
|¼ teaspoon||cumin seed (optional)|
|¼ teaspoon||coriander seed (optional)|
- Cut bottoms off asparagus to make them fit upright in a pint jar. Asparagus tips should be at least 1/2 inch below lid.
(Reserve bottoms for another use.)
- Pour about 2 inches water into a skillet large enough to hold asparagus lying down; bring to a boil. In batches, blanch asparagus: place in skillet, bring water back to a boil, and then immediately remove and run under very cold water or dunk in ice water. Set aside to drain.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan with 2¼ cups water and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally and cook just until salt dissolves; turn off heat.
- Prepare 4 clean, hot pint jars and bands, and new lids. (Dip in boiling water, or run through dishwasher.) When jars are dry but still hot, pack asparagus into them, wedging spears in tightly. There should be enough for 3 or 4 full jars: do not half-fill jars.
- Pour in vinegar solution, just to barely cover tips of asparagus. Make sure to leave 1/2 inch air space above vinegar solution. Distribute garlic slivers and spices evenly among jars. Wipe rims with a clean paper towel dipped in hot water, place lids on top and screw on bands.
(Not too tight, just firmly closed.)
- Prepare a boiling-water bath in a deep pot with a rack. Place jars on rack and pour water over them, making sure water covers jars by 2 to 3 inches. Bring water back to a rolling boil over high heat, start a timer for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and gently boil. When timer goes off, turn off heat and wait 5 minutes before removing jars with jar lifter or tongs. Let cool on counter, untouched, 4 to 6 hours. After 12 to 24 hours, check seals: lift each jar up by the lid, and press the lid to make sure the center is sucked down tightly.
- Store in a cool, dark, dry place (not refrigerator) for 4 weeks before using, or up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening. To serve, drain off pickling liquid and arrange asparagus on plates. Add hard-boiled egg, drizzle with oil and shower with black pepper.