Sometimes after I start a project I wonder what the hell I was thinking… Internet, meet Pickled Asparagus:
I don’t really like pickles. Or at least I thought I didn’t. Maybe I do. I don’t know. I don’t really like beer either but every once in awhile, on a hot day, there is nothing better. So perhaps these are days when the stars are aligned in just the right way; causing intense cravings for the alkaline goodness of pickled foods to emerge and demand satiety. I’m all about pickling right now. I just can’t seem to get enough. And no. I’m not pregnant. I’ve been awash in pickle projects this past week. First time out was Spicy Pickled Asparagus.
I ran across the recipe at Food in Jars a couple of months ago and filed it away as, well, I don’t like pickles. I had canned jams and jellies many times before but never felt tempted to try veggies. A good friend recently gave us some pickled cauliflower that I had first scoffed at but on second try couldn’t get enough of. Hmmm…. what is happening here? What has changed? I remembered my asparagus recipe but still held off. What if the cauliflower was just a fluke? When I realized that pickled asparagus would make the perfect garnish for a bloody mary I knew I had to bump this up on my project list. It doesn’t hurt that I like to hoard things and this type of project really feeds into that nicely.
Spicy Pickled Asparagus
Like most first efforts in the culinary space, I learned some things along the way. I learned that when lifting full quart sized jars out of the water bath you should use a proper jar holder otherwise you might burn and cut yourself at the same time. Yes, I am proof this seemingly impossible cooking blunder is, in fact, quite possible. I also learned that you really can’t kid yourself into thinking that you are doing something ‘economical’ if you are going to buy $22 worth of asparagus to satisfy your project whims/hoarding desires and only end up with 3 jars. It might have been more prudent to use many more smaller jars so as to have more distributable/storable output. I opened one jar to test things out after a couple of days (curiosity got the best of me) and quickly gave two away as gifts to ‘cooking friends’. That didn’t leave anything to satisfy for my theoretical pantry storage instincts. Oh well, my little house on the prairie will have no spicy pickled asparagus for our brunch time bloody marys come wintertime. Sorry Pa.
This is what you will need:
- 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 pickling spice with cloves removed
- 1 tablespoon red hot chili flakes
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 slices of lemon
- 3 quart jars for tall spears or 4-5 pint jars, smaller cuts. Your mileage may vary.
This is how you make it:
- Sterilize your jars.
- Put the lemon slice in the bottom and pack the trimmed and lightly blanched (10 seconds then plunged into an ice bath)
- Put 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.