While the bounty of the summer harvest is still months away, there's still plenty to preserve in the garden. While nothing compares to the springtime freshness of asparagus--so fleeting! so delicious!--pickled asparagus is a joy in it's own right; tangy, rich and nutty, a perfect complement to a condiment platter or a bloody mary. We canned some up the other day, in gorgeous half-liter Weck jars made just for that purpose.
The recipe called for the spears to be placed point down, so that in removing them from the jar to eat, the tender tips would not be damaged. We managed to follow the instructions for a few jars, but had to do a few jars with the tips facing upwards, too. Somehow the asparagus is such a vertically oriented plant, it seemed a shame to can it upside down. And the tips are so much more visible, and beautiful, crowning the top of the jar, than down on the bottom, sunk into the spices.
We may sing a different tune when the time comes to open and eat them, but for now, we're not sorry that we let esthetics trump practicality, just for a moment. Here our version of the recipe.
This recipe fills 4 20 Ounce Weck Asparagus Jars
Briefly submerge the asparagus in boiling water to blanch it, then cover the trimmed, blanched asparagus with ice water and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Combine 6 cups white vinegar, 3 cups water, 5 tsp pickling salt, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.
Add the asparagus and return the liquid briefly to a boil before turning it off.
Place the hot asparagus, (tip up or tip down) into the warm jars, and pour the brine over them. Remember the head space!
When using the tall asparagus jars, make extra sure that the water covers the top of the jars by at least an inch.
We made up some more vinegar bring and pickled some beets and carrots, too, a rainbow in Weck. Too beautiful to eat? We think not. But perhaps we will just gaze upon them for a while, before we eat them. After all, most vinegar pickles taste their best after a month of aging. The flavors meld together, and the sharpness of the vinegar is mellowed. In the meantime, we can dream.
Just looking at this tiny rainbow of canned goods is a reminder of all the harvest to come, an invitation, an inspiration to continue. Like the actual rainbow that shone, briefly, over our store on the last day of March, may it bring pleasure to all who set eyes upon it. Grin for no reason. It's spring.
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If you are not familiar with the water bath canning method watch our water bath canning video workshop. Always make sure you are following all safety guidelines outlined by the USDA when canning anything. Keeping a great journal leads to delicious results! Get inspired by new recipes, expert articles and homemade food adventures in our Monthly Journal.