Pickling asparagus is a great way to enjoy this spring vegetable all year long. This mouth-puckering pickled asparagus is perfect for people who prefer sour over sweet pickles.
Last week asparagus was on sale for $1 per pound–such an amazing deal. As I was picking out some asparagus, a fellow shopper came over and started talking about asparagus with me. She had 6 dinner guests coming for dinner that night and already had 2 bunches of asparagus at home, but she wasn’t sure it would be enough. (She probably asked me because I was filling two bags–about 8 lbs worth of asparagus.) I asked her if her guests liked asparagus, but thinking about it later, could anybody not like asparagus?
As a kid, we ate asparagus steamed and served with ranch dressing on top. It is also delicious roasted in the oven with olive oil and salt. My new asparagus friend said she used to eat it fresh and dip it in mayonnaise until one day until she learned how to make hollandaise sauce, and mayonnaise got the boot.
Have you ever tried asparagus fresh? If you like fresh peas, you will love fresh asparagus because they have a similar flavor and crisp crunch.
Today’s recipe isn’t about fresh asparagus though, it is about pickled asparagus.
Years ago, my husband and I did a guitar and banjo performance at a small community harvest festival. At the festival, I sampled a sweet grandma’s home canned pickled beans. They were amazing! She had grown the beans in her garden and pickled them right after picking them. The beans were just perfectly sour, crisp, and spicy. She shared her recipe with me and also told me that she likes to pickle asparagus too. I have been using that recipe every year to preserve pickled beans or asparagus (or both) and I want to share it with you too.
When I see asparagus at the store on a super sale. I buy enough to pickle a batch of asparagus, and we enjoy it all year-long. Or, if you are lucky enough to live in the country–somewhere where asparagus grows in the wild, try hunting asparagus. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon. Just make sure you aren’t picking it from someone’s private property. My grandma had a patch on the edge of her garden near the road, but still inside her fence line. Just as soon as it was ready to pick, someone would drive by and pick it. So, don’t mess with grandma’s asparagus.
The recipe only calls for 2 cloves of garlic per pint, but the kids fight over the garlic, so I add as much as I can stand to peel–usually 6-8 cloves per pint. Don’t crush the garlic though, or the garlic flavor will overpower the asparagus.
Boil pint jars 20 minutes to sterilize.
Pack jar with asparagus. (Cut the tough end off. If you hold the asparagus and bend it near the bottom, it will snap off where the asparagus is tender. You can then cut the rest of the bunch at the same length.) The asparagus will shrink a little, so pack it tightly.
Into each pint jar, Add:
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
If a little spice is desired, here are three different options.
1 tiny hot dried pepper, not open
a dash of red pepper flakes
a few peppercorns
In a saucepan boil: *
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
Pour the hot brine in the jars with the asparagus. Leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top of the jar. Place clean lid on the jar and secure with canning ring.
Process in a hot water bath canning method for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
Let cool for 24 hours to make sure the seal sets properly. Waiting a few weeks before eating allows the brine to pickle the asparagus fully.
*This is per pint, but I packed my asparagus tight enough that when I made 6 pints, and made brine for 6 pints, I still had enough brine left over to fill 2 more pints. So, if you are making several pints, you probably will not need quite as much brine. For example, if you want 5 pints of pickled asparagus, put in enough ingredients for 4 pints. If you need more, it is very simple to boil up a little more brine.