Pickled Asparagus

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that canning has been at the top of my list of projects to conquer. Unfortunately though, canning and pickling is damn near impossible during the winter because the vegetables and fruits that are in season are few and far between. However, Spring has finally sprung and asparagus is bountiful, tasty, and beautiful. So, I’m here to kick off canning season with some pickled asparagus!

This being my first canning project, I must have read the directions about 500 times before I actually began. I may have been a little overzealous in my attempt to get things right, but some people make canning sound like a dangerous household activity that kills people, and isn’t safe anymore, etc., etc. So maybe I let it get to my head a little too much and was agonizing over getting each step just right. The truth is, canning can be dangerous, but it’s nothing that following the directions can’t solve. Obviously, if you see mold in one of your jars 4 months down the road, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Don’t feel bad. Just throw it out and consider it a lesson. I cannot say I have learned my lesson yet, as I just made my first batch of pickled asparagus this past weekend, but I’m telling you right now, fear not fellow canners; it really is quite simple.

It seems as though ever since I began to read about about canning, I also started acquiring more and more books on the subject. Seems natural, no? So when I decided to venture out into the canning world I had a variety of recipes to choose from. However, I opted to go with Liana Krissoff’s recipe for pickled asparagus because it was laid out simply, and I had most of the ingredients on hand in my pantry. If you are the least bit interested in canning, I would first tell you to pick up the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning and then Krissoff’s book Canning For a New Generation. She lays the recipes out easily and by seasons, so it’s a great go-to when you are curious if those strawberries are ripe for some jamming.

Pickled Asparagus
Adapted from Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

What you’ll Need:

1 pound thick asparagus tips cut 4 inches long (from about 3 bunches of asparagus)
2 C. rice vinegar (4% acidity)
1.5 tsp pure kosher salt
1.5 tsp white cane sugar
2 tsp pickling spice
2 cloves garlic, peeled

*Note: Save those precious asparagus ends. Blanch them in boiling water, puree, and freeze–we will revisit them a few posts down the road.

Begin by preparing your water-bath canner. (To find out what I’m talking about, check out this post on hot water-bath canning)

In a large saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a full boil and blanch the asparagus. Once you place your asparagus into the boiling water, let it come back to a full boil, and when it does, immediately drain the asparagus thoroughly and chill in an ice bath.

In a stainless steel pot, bring vinegar, 1 C water, salt, and sugar to a boil.

At this time, you can add a ladle full of boiling water from your hot water bath canner to the bowl with your lids to soften the sealant. Then, using your jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot and place them on a folded kitchen towel. Then you may drain the water off of your jar lids and wait until your jars have been filled.

Evenly divide the asparagus, pickling spices, and garlic, among your two jars. Ladle the pickling liquid into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Run a chop stick, or rubber spatula inside the jars to remove any air bubbles you may have. Doing so helps to prevent expansion, and spoiling your seals down the road.

Tighten the rings on the jars until finger tight, and place back into the hot water-bath canner. Bring to a boil and let the jars process for a full 10 minutes.

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel in an undisturbed place for 12 hours. After one hour you may check the jars to make sure they have sealed by pushing down on the center of the lid. If it does not spring back up, your jars have sealed. You can also double-check by removing your ring and picking the jar up by the lid (carefully). If the lid does not pop off you are good to go. However, if the seal does not stick, fear not, your precious asparagus is not lost. Just make sure to refrigerate and eat it within 1-3 weeks.

Label your jars and store them for up to 1 year. I want to let my asparagus spend some time on the shelf before I eat it, so that I can admire my efforts. I’ll let you know how it goes, but it looks fantastic!

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