Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lemon & Garlic Pickled Asparagus

A few weeks ago, I spotted some beautiful green and white asparagus and decided they'd make a fine pickle. Lemon and garlic are a natural paring with asparagus, making these pickled delights ideal to eat as a snack right out of the jar, or as a quick addition to weeknight meals. 

Not only are white asparagus delicious to eat, they make a striking presentation when pickled with green asparagus. White asparagus is grown by continually covering the shoots with soil as they grow, keeping them unexposed to sunlight, thus preventing photosynthesis. This is how the full length shoots remain white. 

As asparagus season is fairly short (from about early March to late June, depending on where you live), canning is a wonderful way to enjoy them well past what their season will allow. I happened to come across some tall 24 oz. (1 1/2 pint) Ball mason jars at the hardware store and thought they would be ideal for long asparagus stalks (as it turns out, that's exactly what these size jars are intended for- who knew?). When using regular pint jars, you end up losing half the stalk to fit the asparagus in the jar. The 24 oz. jars are somewhat harder to find, but you can always order them online if you can't locate them at your local hardware or kitchen supply store. 


Inspired by

1 1/2 lb. green asparagus
1 1/2 lb. white asparagus  
2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. pickling salt
1 tsp. sugar 
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds  
5 (24 oz. or 1 1/2 pint) mason jars, cleaned and sterilized

Thoroughly wash and trim the bottom of each asparagus spear to fit a 24 oz. (1 1/2 pint) jar, allowing for a 1/2-inch headspace. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, lemon juice, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt and sugar. Taste the brine, adding more salt or sugar to taste, if needed.

Meanwhile, place 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds in each of the 5 jars. Tightly pack the asparagus into the jars (I prefer mine tip-side up, but you can pack them either end up). 

Using a ladle, evenly divide the hot brine into each of the 5 jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims with a clean paper towel, and apply the lids and rings.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place them on a kitchen towel. Check to see that the jars have sealed properly (if some have not, place these in the refrigerator and eat first). Let the jars rest, undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Label, date, and store the jars in a cool dark place for up to 1 year (allow the pickled asparagus to sit for about 1 month before eating, to allow the flavors to fully develop). After opening, refrigerate and consume the asparagus within 3 weeks. For more detailed information, see my step-by-step guide to canning here.

Yield: 5 (24 oz. or 1 1/2 pint) jars
  • Look for asparagus that are very fresh and crisp, with firm tips. 
  • Most grocery stores don't carry pickling salt, so look for it at specialty food stores or online. Pickling salt differs from other table salts in that it is free of additives that darken pickled food or turn the pickling liquid cloudy (such as iodine and anti-caking agents). In a jiffy, you can substitute pickling salt with kosher salt, but since the size of kosher salt is slightly larger than pickling salt, the measurements will differ when measured by volume. So if using kosher salt for this recipe, use 1 heaping tbsp. of kosher salt in place of 1 regular tbsp. of pickling salt.

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