Oh asparagus! How I avoided pickling you. I kept you waiting in the fridge for over a week, as you anticipated your spicy vinegar bath. And yet, already you’ve given me so much! After just two days of pickling, you are the perfect balance of crisp and pucker. You make the perfect sidecar to just about any meal. I am enamored.
That’s right kids, the pickled asparagus has turned out to be a riotous success, despite the fact that I used asparagus that was a tiny bit past its prime (life, why much you always throw distractions into my canning schedule?) and forgot to include the peppercorns in the brine.
I based my recipe on one from a really terrific book about Southern-style canning called Putting Up. It’s by Stephen Palmer Dowdney, who ran a successful canning business in Charleston, SC for many years (although I’m far more impressed by the fact that he was a college classmate of Pat Conroy, who is one of my favorite authors).
If you’re looking to expand your food preservation reference library (I make it sound so official, don’t I), this is definitely a volume to consider. I like how it’s organized by month, as well as the fact that it has really excellent details on the basics of canning.
Before we get into the recipe, I want to take a moment to encourage all of you to consider pickling something. Possibly even this week. The reason? It is so very simple. You can prep just a single jar at a time, which makes it the perfect first canning project.
Honestly, you don’t even need to do the hot water bath if you’re just making a jar or two for yourself, you can just stash your pickles in the fridge. Making pickles will build your canning confidence and get you excited for more ambitious projects. I’m certainly chomping at the bit for my next pickling project (onions and then okra). If I’ve got you sufficiently excited, my favorite refrigerator pickle recipe is right here.
I’m not going to be giving a jar of these pickles away, since this whole pickling thing is new to me, I want to wait and make sure they continue to be good for the weeks to come before I start handing them out, all willy nilly. However, do not despair. I’ve got another giveaway up my sleeve that will be coming soon.
- 4 pounds asparagus trimmed to fit your pint jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds
- 3 cups vinegar half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons Penzeys pickling spice
- 1 tablespoon red hot chili flakes
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- 3 slices of lemon
- 3 pint jars if you use the taller, 12 ounce jelly jars, you don’t have to cut your asparagus quite as short and you’ll probably fill four jars. I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use them.
- Sterilize your jars.
- Put the lemon slice in the bottom and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars (it’s up to you to determine whether you want to go tips up or down). Tuck a garlic clove down into the asparagus spears.
- Bring the vinegar, water and spices to a boil. Pour into jars on top of asparagus, leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space.
- Put lids and rings on the jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (you can skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge).
- Wait at least 24 hours before eating, to give the asparagus spears a chance to get sufficiently pickly.
I think you’re right about pickling being the gateway to build “canning confidence.” We pickled cucumbers when we had a large garden in our East Coast years, and couldn’t get over (1) how good they tasted and (2) how straightforward they really were.
We have to try the asparagus — the commercial versions are insanely expensive!
Wholly #$#!!@@#&^*( I just attempted my first canning experience cant wait to eat it i put a little extra peppers in mine i like it supper hot….
The tall jelly jars are perfect for asparagus, and so pretty. I tried my hand at pickling beets this week. Yummy.
I’m going to take your pickling excitement and get pickling. Asparagus is where I’ll start since I love to buy the terrifically expensive pickled asparagus that they sell in gourmet shops. I guess the trick is finding tall jars. I’d hate to cut them too terribly short. Thanks for the inspiration!
Lori, you’re welcome! Let me know if you have any questions! -Marisa
You are seriously making me want to pickle something right this second and I’m so not a food in jars kind of girl, but this website is making me want to become one. Plus I adore asparagus and love that you called this a meal “sidecar.” Keep up the awesome education please!
Erin, I’m so excited to be inspiring you to pickle something! -Marisa
ok you’ve inspired me. I am going to pickle something. Maybe an ex-boyfriend or five. Nah…I LOVE all things pickled. Now I just need to go buy some nice jars for doing such.
Andi, let me know if you have any pickling questions. I’m sure you’ll do fine though, as a woman with your skill at hummus making should have no trouble making an awesome pickle! -Marisa
Thank you for encouraging people to pickle just a few jars at a time and keeping them in the fridge. It does not seem so daunting then…
a reminder to me too, who cans all summer long. I need to start earlier.
Have you ever pickle hardy greens (kale, mustard etc?)
Sylvie, I’ve never pickled hardy greens, but now that you’ve planted the idea, I really want to try it. Kale is one of my favorites, so now I can’t stop thinking about how it would be pickled. -Marisa
and I just reread the recipe! best part for me: no sugar. Too many pickling recipes come with sugar! so thank you for this one!
Just made a batch of pickeled cauliflower, and then I thought, “hmmmm…I have some asparagus…why not?” Any idea what’s in the Penzey’s Pickling mix if we don’t have it on hand?< /b>
The Penzeys mix contains mustard seeds, allspice, bay leaves, dill seeds, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, star anise, coriander, juniper berries, mace, cardamom and red peppers. You could try your hand at mixing a spice blend together of whatever of those items you happen to have on hand. Or if you have some other pickling spices that you particularly like, just substitute them. The original picklers made do with what they had, you can too. -Marisa
I’ve been meaning to try some pickled asparagus, but haven’t been able to reserve any asparagus yet. this weekend, surely, I’ll manage to save some.
I’m thinking allspice, cloves and pepper would be an especially nice combo. ooh… you’d also be interested in the delicious pickled carrots served w/sandwiches at the new Evoe, in the space next to Pastaworks. I thought I tasted dill and red wine vinegar. maybe I’ll ask for the recipe.
Sarah, pickled carrots are on the short list of things I hope to make soon. My favorite Philly farmers market opens on May 3rd, and so I’m hoping that there will be many delicious things that will inspire the next canning project. -Marisa
Last year I pickled cauliflower, green beans, and zuchinni. I can’t wait for the farmers market to open and the canning season to start here in Iowa! 🙂
so I did the pickled asparagus, but mine’s in a sour brine. after much deliberation I went with green garlic, hot pepper flakes, allspice, peppercorns, and nutmeg. early taste tests are delicious and I used your trick of saving the blanching liquid for watering plants (mine went on celery seeds I’m trying to encourage to sprout…)
I hope it’s good b/c a LOT of asparagus went into it!
When I can my asparagus, I take the cut pieces 2 inches long and also can them. That is what the kids love.
These are crying out for a bloody mary to float in…likewise for your soon-to-be pickled okra. Delicious!
OMG!! Sorry to yell, but I made these the other day. They are the best! Ever! Can ‘ya tell I like them? Thank you soooo much for sharing the recipe. I took them to bible study tonight and everyone loved them. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I also made the grape katchup, it is absolutely fabulous. It was just great on chicken, next I plan on using it on flank steak for fajitas. I can’t wait.
This recipe didn’t work despite our best efforts. My asparagus shrivelled. It was as if the brine sucked the moisture from the stalks. A complete waste of time, product and effort.
Doh, mine shriveled as well! 🙁
When I went back and looked at the recipe, comparing to some other pickling brines I’ve used, it seems to have nearly twice the salt of the other brines – could there be an error in the recipe causing this problem? Something else going on?
Don’t despair if your pickled stuff shrivels! Sometimes that will happen to mine too. Just let them sit awhile in their brine (they’re shelf-stable anyway) and they will plump back up with briney-goodness. 🙂
I love pickling asparagus! I pack the jars with the asparagus tips down, though. That way, they don’t break when you pull them out of the jar. I don’t drink, but I have some friends that LOVE my pickled asparagus with their martinis.
I have a large jar of picle juice. I put my asparagas in it. Will this work? Any suggestions?
Pickled radishes last week. Asparagus from my garden this week. I found 24 oz. wide mouth canning jars at the market. I can cut the spears to 6″ and still have enough head space. They seem ideal.
Delish! Busted open the first jar tonight w/ dinner and the kids were fighting over them! Had to make sure everyone got the same amount! Will definitely be making more of these!
I canned 1276 quarts last year… I can anything and everything Love it !!!
Do these come out crispy or soft? I love that Dilly Beans because they still have a snap to them. I’d like to make a Bloody Mary mix of Dilly Beans, Pickled Asparagus, Pickled Brussels Sprouts, and Lickled Carrots. Will these Asparagus stand up?
Absolutely delicious!! Just the right amount of spice!