Asparagus season is here. You think it will last forever, but then, suddenly, it will be gone.
So, don’t hesitate. Make these pickled spears. They are the perfect addition to a Bloody Mary. They are so delicious that opening a jar is dangerous. It will be gone in a flash. And if you have only made three jars, you will become a hoarder. I know this from experience.
These pickles are the easiest thing in the world. If you want to put them on the shelf for later, you’ll need to can them in a boiling water bath. But you can also put them in the refrigerator and they’re ready in just 24 hours.
I prefer the very thin asparagus for pickling, and I never blanch ahead of pickling, although I know some canners do. I do soak the spears for a few minutes in ice water to soak off any little bits of dirt that might be hiding in the nooks.
I’m just getting started. I have three jars made, and as soon as asparagus is fully in season (and a little less expensive!) I have plans for at least 12 more. I use the tall 12 oz jars, but also love to find the 24 oz tall jars with a neck. A jar neck will help keep the asparagus from floating, making a prettier jar. And you know I’m all about pretty jars.
You can also make asparagus pickles in regular pint jars, but will need to cut shorter spears, resulting in more leftover asparagus… not such a bad thing. Cut off the woody ends, and chop the asparagus that remains, to make a cream of asparagus soup flavored with sorrel. It will taste like Spring.
Makes three 12 oz jars
Adapted ever so slightly from Food In Jars
3 bunches of asparagus, trimmed to fit your jars
3 c water
3 c white vinegar
2 T kosher salt
4 T pickling spices
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
One lemon zested into long strips
Trim the asparagus to fit the jars. Reserve the trimmings.
Get your boiling water bath going, and a pan of rings and lids simmering.
Soak the asparagus in ice water for 20 minutes, to loosen any dirt.
Make the brine – In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the water, vinegar, spices and pepper flakes to a boil.
Drain the asparagus and gather a bunch in your hand. Loop the lemon rind around the asparagus so it will be seen in the jar.. Pack the jars tight. I like the spears pointing up, but have no specific reasoning for doing it that way. The top of the asparagus should not come above the jar’s rim. Tuck one garlic clove in each jar.
Pour the hot brine over the asparagus to within 1/4″ of the top. Wipe the rims and cover with a clean, heated lid and ring.
Refrigerate or process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let the pickles do their thing for 24 hours before sampling.
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Sorrel
Serves six as a first course
3 c asparagus
4 c chicken stock
2 c fresh sorrel leaves
1/2 c chives
1/2 c heavy cream
Salt and white pepper
Simmer the asparagus in the chicken stock until tender, about 10 minutes.
Puree the asparagus in a blender until smooth.
Strain through a sieve and return to the pot to reheat gently.
Cut the sorrel in a chiffonade and mince the chives.
Add the cream to the soup and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the sorrel and chives and serve immediately.