How to Pickle Asparagus
The canning equipment has come out of winter storage and the smell of pickling brine is in the air. We take canning seriously around here. It's a chance to restock the pantry with the glorious canned produce depleted through a cold and snowy winter. Strawberries are often first out of the gate for food preservation, but a healthy asparagus crop means there’s plenty on hand to be preserved for a time when the flavorful stalks are in short supply.
As with other low-acid produce, successful water bath canning of this spring crop requires a medium that will keep bacteria at bay. That means pickling and we’re more than O.K. with that. Pickled asparagus can be eaten all by itself, as a sandwich or salad topper or served with charcuterie. For cocktail drinkers, swapping out the same old celery with pickled asparagus in a Bloody Mary and this slightly spicy spear may soon become your garnish of choice.
Pickling asparagus is a fairly straightforward process, but unlike cucumber pickles, includes the extra step of blanching the stalks before canning. While blanching the asparagus is not strictly necessary, it’s worth the time investment to allow that tasty brine to fully permeate the stalks. Blanching should be brief to soften the flesh enough to allow the brine to fully penetrate the firm stalks without cooking the vegetable to mush.
With a summer of pickling ahead of us, asparagus is a great place to start. Use the freshest asparagus you can get your hands on and adjust the recipe as needed to accommodate any size harvest.
Yield: 6 pints
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 3 pounds fresh asparagus
- 6 small chili peppers
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, dill seed, garlic and peppercorns in a non-reactive pot and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low.
Trim the base of asparagus and cut to fit in pint jars with 1/2” head space.
Fill clean pot with water and bring to a boil.
Drop asparagus in pot to blanch for 30 seconds, then immediately transfer into a bowl of ice water to cool.
Pack asparagus tightly into 6 sterilized pint jars, adding one chili pepper to each jar.
Pour brine into jars to cover asparagus, leaving 1/2” head space.
Cap jars with lids and bands.
Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal.
Wait at least 3-5 days before serving.
Store in a cool, dry place up to one year.