The Picklepalooza continues… I do like pickles, and really…why shouldn’t I. Its all perfectly natural, I mean, who wouldn’t like pickle ? (If I may paraphrase Valerie Perrine only slightly.) Staring down (or up) on the same pickle day in and day out, however, is sure to trend toward the unexciting so after awhile it would only seem natural to seek out other choices as long as you did it safely. Its a tendency not to be too alarmed over. These days, with the Internet, it seems easier than ever to sample from different pickle varieties. Hardly a week goes by without some new trendy boutique pickle shop getting a mention in the New York Times. I read somewhere that Simon Doonan (he of the famous windows of Barney’s fame) has actually declared pickles to be “the new cupcakes” and while I don’t really think tourists any time soon will be lining up outside pickle stores in the East Village I do think their newly rediscovered popularity is well founded. For those of us cursed not to live on the island of Manhattan or in one of the Burroughs adjacent we either must make do with mail order or we must learn to make our own. I’m doing both. (You are seeing my efforts develop here but I have also ordered up a few varieties of fun pickles and pickled veggies to play with.)
What you see here are my latest efforts. Carrot pickles and asparagus pickles, both with tarragon and garlic. As much as I love a big, fat, pickled cucumber I’m steering clear of that particular veggie for the time being. They can be trouble and somewhat particular and idiosyncratic when it comes to their briny treatment. Also, people tend to be a bit fussy when it comes to their cucumbers so until I have a better grasp of their nuances I’m keeping my hands off. I realize that this is my third such pickling recipe on the blog in as many weeks but I don’t think I should need an arm twisting to show off my antique Victorian pickle fork, do I? (Besides, I feel a new obsession (explosion) coming on and I have to get these veggies put up for the cold harsh winter while I can!)
I wasn’t that interested in using a store bought pickling spice this time so I did a little research (this means I scoured the blogasphere) and my ‘aha’ moment was centered on one thing: Tarragon. It is one of my absolute favorite herbs as it just reeks of class for me. (Using the word “reeks” alas, does not. ) I thought I would be extra clever and skip the parboil of the veggies before loading them into the jars. My thinking was that they will cook enough in the hot brine and water bath treatment so why overcook them? Turns out there is a reason for this step: Kevin at Saving the Season tells me that the parboiled veggies are actually a bit smaller after this treatment (the veggies lose a bit of volume as they lose water to the boil) and a tad more flexible so packing them in the bottle tighter will be easier with the parboil. Who knew?
Pickled Carrots and Asparagus with Tarragon
adapted from Saving the Season
This is what you will need:
- 3 lbs fat fresh asparagus
- 3 cups white wine vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 teaspoons salt
- 1 clove garlic or 1/4 of a small head of green garlic
- 3-inch leafy branch of fresh tarragon
- 1 dried red chili
- 1 lemon cut into very thin slices
- 6 whole black pepper
- 5 whole coriander seed
- pinch mustard seed
- 2 whole allspice cut stalks into 4-inch lengths to fit jars.
This is how you make it:
- Cut the stalks into 4? pieces to fit into the jars. Peel and cut the carrots into 1/4? to 1/2 inch thick sticks. Peel the garlic cloves but leave whole. Sterilize your jars and lids. After they are done, prep the aromatics by putting one slice of lemon on the bottom of the jar and then add to each prepared jar the appropriate amount of garlic, tarragon and spices.
- If you parboil the asparagus and carrots do so in rapidly boiling water for 45 seconds, just long enough to set a bright color and make the spears pliable. “Shock” the hot spears in an ice-water bath. Then drain. Pack asparagus and carrots into the jars so that you have a snug fit, but don’t overcrowd.
- Make the vinegar syrup by combining vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Fill each jar with hot vinegar syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims and seal. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.