Thursday, June 2, 2011
Pickled Asparagus - Putting Food By
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Please be honest. Could you resist this bargain? I need you to understand how pounds and pounds of asparagus found its way into my kitchen. I want you to understand the madness that drove a woman of my timber to process anything so vibrant in a manner guaranteed to turn it khaki green. Pounds of asparagus have already been blanched and made it to the freezer. I've held back some to use for a special project. I decided to pickle the last ten pounds of it and add the jars to gift baskets I make at Christmas time. As pickles go, this one is really easy to do. You need canning jars and a kettle, but not much in the way of special ingredients. A little garlic, some vinegar and a specialized salt used for pickling will do the trick. The pickling salt is free of additives that can turn pickles dark and brine cloudy and there really is no substitute for it. Fortunately, it can be found in any large grocery store. The most difficult part of this exercise is preparing the asparagus to fit into the canning jars. You, of course, want to discard the woody portion of the stems, but the size of your jars will require you cut the stems further still. Save this soft middle portion of the spear. Tomorrow, in a exercise where country roads meet city streets, we'll turn those odd pieces into an asparagus pesto that makes a wonderfully sophisticated sauce for chicken or pasta. Chances are most of you will never pickle asparagus, but its fun to see how its done, and the recipe will give you a greater appreciation of what's involved in putting food by.
Pickled Asparagus...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of the National Center for Home Food Preservation
10 pounds asparagus
6 large garlic cloves
4-1/2 cups water
4-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
6 small hot peppers (optional)
1/2 cup canning salt
3 teaspoons dill seed
1) Wash and rinse six wide-mouth pint jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's directions.
2) Wash asparagus well, but gently, under running water. Cut stems from bottom to leave spears with tips that fit into canning jars with a little less than 1/2-inch headspace. Peel and wash garlic cloves. Place a garlic clove in bottom of each jar, and tightly pack asparagus into jars with blunt ends down.
3) In an 8-quart Dutch oven or saucepot, combine water, vinegar, hot peppers (optional), salt and dill seed. Bring to a boil. Place one hot pepper (if used) in each jar over asparagus spears. Pour boiling hot pickling brine over spears, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
4) Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.
5) Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove from canner. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals. Allow pickled asparagus to sit in processed jars for 3 to 5 days before consumption for best flavor development. Yield: 6 pint jars.
Cook's Note: Photo of asparagus is shown before processing in boiling water bath.
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