It’s fresh asparagus season – one of my favorite times of the year! We eat lots of asparagus every spring; in stir-fries, grilled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, steamed with lemon-pepper, even on pizza. But I always like to put some up as pickles too.
Over the years I have shared many pickling recipes, like Pickled Cauliflower, Pickled Carrots, and my all-time favorite, Pickled Brussels sprouts. Pickled vegetables are a great way to jazz up your meals, especially in the late winter - early spring time when the grocery store vegetables are looking a little worse for the wear. Pickles have other benefits too. Eating pickles helps you lose weight – the sourness decreases your appetite – and many people swear that the vinegar helps to keep them healthy by boosting immunity. Pickled asparagus and other vegetables make a quick, easy, and unusual appetizer. Plus, your guests will think you are brilliant when they find the pickled asparagus is homemade. Just bask in the glow – they don’t have to know how easy it is! Of course, some days the pickling gods are just grouchy. Read about my less-than-perfect pickling experience on my Seed to Pantry blog.
Before starting any canning project, it’s always a good idea to brush up on home canning safety tips. MOTHER EARTH NEWS has published many canning articles that help keep us up-to-date, including the very helpful Home Canning Guide.
This particular recipe is adapted from the Pickled Asparagus with Mustard Seed recipe found in Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton. I was fortunate to hear Ms. Brooks-Vinton speak at the Mother Earth News Fair a few years ago. She was friendly and engaging with an obvious love of all things preserving. Yield 3 quarts.
8 lbs. asparagus, washed and trimmed
8 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp celery seed
2 tbsp mustard seed
2 tsp peppercorns
Trim the asparagus to lengths about 1 inch shorter than the quart jars. Tip the clean jars on their side and pack with the asparagus. Note: I use tongs for this step. Add one peeled garlic clove to each jar. In a medium saucepan (not aluminum) combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat. Using a ladle and funnel, fill the jars with the water/vinegar brine mix. Leave 1/2 inch of head space. Carefully run a nonmetallic utensil down inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place lids on jars and screw bands on firmly. Process in boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove from canner. Let the jars cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Make sure jars have sealed, remove screw bands, and store in a cool, dark place. Let sit for 2-3 weeks before enjoying!