Monday, April 9, 2012
Asparagus! The Pickled Kind
Spring has sprung! And if I didn’t know this from the lovely sunshine, I’d know it by the bounty of asparagus in the supermarket. I’d been planning for a while now to try my hand at pickling asparagus. I even bought some asparagus last week, but it didn’t make it to pickles, but instead into the oven for a lovely roasted asparagus side dish for friends.
Pickled nibbles are a cocktail party mainstay at our house. The thing is, I like my pickles to all taste distinctive. My friend Andrew and I made pickled okra last year, of which I have only a single jar left. They are tart and mild. A couple of months ago I made pickled carrot spears that are spicy, but tempered by sweetness. I wanted these asparagus pickles to have their own personality.
I’m not exactly new to canning, but still after all these years, I’m timid about straying from the recipe. You know, botulism, all that. I looked all over for a recipe that I both trusted and met my criteria. I wanted a simple pickle and I also wanted to can in quart jars because my asparagus was tender, long, and thin. For Christmas, my mom got me the book Canning for a New Generation. This book is great and one of the things I like most about it is that she often uses cider vinegar, which I find to have a gentle flavor. But the recipe was for pint jars and I wasn’t sure of the timing. Finally, I found a great handout from a great source—Washington State University! This freakin' great brochure has a handy guide that talked about vinegar and swapping out spices. It was great and gave me guidelines and confidence to adapt the recipe to my own needs.
Adjusted for Two Quarts
1 quart cider vinegar (5%)
1 quart water
¼ cup pickling salt
Per jar add:
1 clove garlic
a few peppercorns
sprig of dill
Wash asparagus under cool running water. Cut spears to fit jar leaving ½ inch head space. Combine water, vinegar, salt to make brine. Heat to boiling. Pack asparagus into hot jars with tip ends down. Add garlic to each jar. Cover with boiling bring to within ½ inch form top of jar. Finger-tip tighten lids.
Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes for pints or quarts, 15 minutes for 1,000-6,000 feet elevation.