Pickled Asparagus

Here we go with our first pickling date of the season!

Asparagus is out in full force and on a pretty solid whim, we decided to stock up and rip into a pickling frenzy.

Goal: 12 jars of pickled asparagus.

Method:

1. Trim asparagus of woody ends.  Each stalk should be about two inches shorter than the top of jar being used. Preheat oven to 375F (will help with sealing the jars) and place the lids in a pot of boiling water until need.

2.  Blanch asparagus in slightly alkaline water.  Harold McGee in “On Food” suggests that  green veggies loose their color during cooking and exposure to acid.  To remedy this we added about a teaspoon of baking soda to 8 liters of water and refrained from adding salt.  We blanched our asparagus in about 1 pound bunches for about 1 min. Its important to use enough water so that the temp. does not drop when the asparagus goes in.

3.  Shock the asparagus.  As each bunch of asparagus comes out of the blanching liquid it needs to be shocked in ice-cold water. This stops the asparagus from cooking any further and helps it retain its vivid color.

4.  Brine:         For 12 lbs of asparagus:
6 cups vinegar (we used equal parts cider, white wine and white vinegar)
14 cups of water
6 tbsp sea or kosher salt (avoid table salt or any iodized salt)
12 tbsp of pickling spices: mustard seed, coriander seed, fennel seed,  all spice, bay leaf, black pepper and mustard seed.  We used equal parts of everything and a little less for heavy the heavy spices like allspice and black pepper.
1 clove of garlic per jar cut in half

5. After the brine is poured over the asparagus, cap the jars off and bake them for 10-15 minutes to ensure that there’s a perfect seal between the lid and the jar.

*The asparagus is ready for you to enjoy 24 hours later, but can be kept in a cool and dark place for quite some time. It turns out to be tangy, flavourful and a great replacement for pickles in any dish (especially potato salad)

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