June 08, 2011

Hot Pepper Pickled Asparagus

6-8 pounds asparagus, cut into jar sized pieces*
6 cloves garlic
6 long, skinny hot peppers
6 bay leaves
3 shallots, minced
4 1/2 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons dill seeds
3 teaspoons dillweed
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
3/4 teaspoon chernuska seeds (Russian black caraway)

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices, peppers and garlic between 6 wide mouth pint jars**. Add the asparagus, leaving 1/4 inch headroom.

Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 1 week before eating.

*If you want to can only the top half, save the rest for something else.

**If you have 12 oz tall jelly jars you can can larger stalks. I couldn't find them.

Yield: about 6 wide mouth pints's worth of asparagus top halves. I went ahead and pickled the bottom halves and that yielded another 4 wide mouth pints.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
We found some late season asparagus at the farmers market this week and I was so excited! I'd taught myself how to can after asparagus season last year and I've always wanted to make asparagus pickles. They are so good yet so expensive at the store. Pickling is a great first canning project because you get the practice in but you don't have to be terribly careful. No fruit that might scorch, no eyeballing thickening, just dissolving salt in (cheap!) vinegar and water. Easy-peasy! I made these pickles with my very capable intern, Jillian, who had never canned before and it was a breeze. The pickles have a great flavor and I swear, the hardest part is cutting them to fit into the jars.