Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Asparagus Nom-Noms

CSA Asparagus
'Tis the season for asparagus! Coming off the heels of the Best Sandwich, Ever (to date, my most popular) post, asparagus might seem like a bit of a downer to some of you. Shame on you! Asparagus is awesome, especially pickled with peppers and garlic. In fact, I had about a 1/4 cup of spears left over that wouldn't fit in the jars I set aside for canning, so I ate them as-is, straight out of the pan, after cooking in vinegar. Yum.  If you like pickled cucumbers, aka "pickles," you'll love asparagus pickles.

This recipe is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (definitely click on the link for all of your canning questions/needs).  Because I got a small bundle and used a bit in a potato-leek soup, I only had enough to fill 2 jars.  And since I couldn't find the tall, 12-oz jars at the store, I used a couple 8-oz jars and chopped the asparagus spears down to fit in the jars.  You do what you gotta do, better than the asparagus going to waste.  And since the Ball recipe calls for 7 POUNDS of asparagus, I had to fraction everything to one-seventh...not fun, but eating them sure is fun!

Here is the recipe:
Pickled Asparagus (Makes 6 pint jars)
7 lbs. Asparagus
Ice Water
4 Tbsp. finely chopped seeded red bell pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped seeded green bell pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped seeded hot chili pepper (I used jalapeno)
3 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
5 c. white vinegar
1-2/3 c. water
1-2/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. pickling salt
2 Tbsp. dill seeds
2 Tbsp. mustard seeds (I didn't have these, so didn't use them)

1.  Trim ends from asparagus and cut spears into uniform lengths about 3/4 in. shorter than inside height of the jars.  In a large shallow dish, cover asparagus with ice water and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Drain.
2.  Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
3.  In a small bowl, combine red and green bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic.  Mix.
4.  In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt.  Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Add asparagus and return to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes or until asparagus is heated through.
5.  Place 2 Tbsp. chopped pepper mixture, 1 tsp. dill seeds, and 1 tsp. mustard seeds into each hot jar.  Pack asparagus, tips down [as you can see, I didn't do this.  Oops!  Way to follow directions] into hot jars to within a generous 1/2" of top of jar.  Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover asparagus, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Remove air bubbles and add pickling liquid if needed.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
6.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
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I love eating these on their own as a side-dish.  They are so crunchy that they can be used in almost any recipe that fresh asparagus is used and provide an extra bit of tangy flavor.  However, don't forget to adjust cooking time of the asparagus itself.  Delicious!  xo, AB
Ever wonder what asparagus stalks look like when they are growing?  This isn't my photo, can't take credit for it...but I also couldn't find where it originally belonged.


  1. I used to live in a place that had wild asparagus growing all around the local fenced paddocks and pastures. You could go out every evening during its growing season and cut a basketful (this was in Nevada, no less). They did NOT look like this. They grew one stalk each to a large fernlike plant. I tried them here in PA but could not get them to go. Never saw any grown like this - it's almost like its a day-after-doomsday kind of picture. Very weird! Joan in PA

  2. if left uncut these would grow into fern like plants with small spheres around the bottom eventually.

  3. I never saw an asparagus bed so weed free I struggle with that!