In February I was home for about 4 weeks in between jobs. Well, I was home for 2 weeks for my dog’s surgery, 1 week for double-blizzard-fun-time, and 1 week of just sitting around in between jobs. During those 4 weeks I decided to learn how to can. I bought a big pot with a rack that goes in the bottom and other assorted tools. I got a book from the library. I read lots of blogs and asked canning Tweeps questions. I managed to figure it out and successfully canned stuff without giving myself botulism. That’s really all that matters.
During those 4 weeks, although I did successfully can stuff, nothing that was particularly good. It was February, after all. There was minimal produce worth canning.
Then spring came. Ah, spring. Let’s pickle some stuff! I made regular ol’ cucumber pickles once before but this time I wanted to try something new.
I bought myself a coobook on canning (I spotted it on the James Beard Award nominee list) and off I went. First thing that caught my eye: pickled asparagus. I love asparagus but my husband does not. If I make them, it is in the spring when they are on every table at the farmers’ market and I bring them for lunch. Canning them sounded terrific.
I’m going to give you the recipe as I made it which isn’t exactly how it is given in the book. Also — I’m not going to give instructions on water bath processing and canning techniques because I’m still very new to this. If I tell you something wrong you could get sick. I don’t want that on me. No sir. Check out this website for resources: http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/
- 5 pounds asparagus (I probably had about 3 pounds of green and purple asparagus — the purple loose their purple, FYI. Very disappointing.)
- 2 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup pickling salt (I used kosher salt because that’s what I had)
- 2 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1 teaspoon dill seed (I had dried dill weed, so I used that)
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
Snap the bottoms off the asparagus. Put about 2 inches of water in a shallow pan that is large enough to hold the asparagus. Bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for only about 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Then shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to set the nice green color (just got a bowl of water and fill with ice cubes).
Combine the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the salt has dissolved but not longer than that. The acid in the vinegar will start to dissolve and you need this for proper preserving.
Pack your jars with the asparagus cutting accordingly to make them fit and then pour the liquid mixture in the jars. Really pack them good! Then either seal them and put them in the fridge or properly preserve them in a water bath.
Let them sit for about 4 weeks before cracking one open. You could definitely try making these as refrigerator pickles. If you do, let me know how it goes!
They are so delicious! The vinegar and spices give them a great dill pickle flavor but the natural asparagus still comes through. I cut a few up and added them to a salad of lettuce from my CSA, and radishes and baby zucchini from the farmers’ market. It was a great addition!