Wondering how to make the best Pickled Asparagus for your cocktails and charcuterie boards? This small batch recipe shows how easy it is to preserve Asparagus at it’s prime.
Pickled asparagus is delicious right out of the jar as a snack, but even more delicious as a Caesar or Bloody Mary garnish. This salty and sour treat is great on charcuterie boards, in a sandwich or burger, or alongside roasted meats. Asparagus readily soaks up all the vinegar and salt brine while still retaining that crispy bite everyone loves in a pickle.
Simple Home Pickled Asparagus
Small batch pickling is easier than you think. Once you have the method mastered, there’s a whole world of produce out there just waiting to be pickled. In our family, Picked Carrots and Pickled Eggs are at the top of the list for pickled goodies.
Asparagus season is short and sweet, so we make the most of it by eating as much as we can. We love it roasted, in salads, soups and pasta dishes. At least once in the season I end up buying a few more bunches than we can eat. When that happens, it’s pickling time!
What is Asparagus?
Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant which can grow up to 100–150 cm (39–59 in) tall. Fully mature asparagus has stout stems with much-branched, feathery foliage but it’s the younger, more tender stalks that are eaten.
Asparagus is native to Europe and Western Asia but is now widely cultivated around the world. After planting, it takes 3 full seasons before the underground root system has fully developed and first harvest takes place during the fourth season.
Why Should I Pickle Asparagus?
Fresh, seasonal asparagus is so sweet and delicious on it’s own. However, it’s only available for a short time in the Spring. If you love asparagus as much as I do, you’ll want to eat it year round. The only way to preserve it year round is by pickling it.
Is Pickled Asparagus Good For Me?
Yes…well mostly. One quick look at the nutritional information below shows that it is low in all the fats, cholesterol, and sugar. However, if you are on a low sodium diet, be sure to eat any type of pickle in moderation. Salt is an important part of how this sweet vegetable is preserved.
The good news? Pickled asparagus still contains fibre and good things like the Vitamins K, A, C, and E as well as a good amount of folate and minerals such as Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Zinc.
Equipment You Will Need
There are a few key pieces of equipment you will need for any hot water bath canning or pickling project. The good news is that most are re usable, making home preserving a very economical process.
- large canner or stock pot – These are available at home or hardware stores and I’ve also seen them in our grocery store around canning season. It should be wide enough to hold several jars with space in between and tall enough so that the jars remain covered with water throughout the process.
- canning rack – This rack goes in the bottom of the canner. It separates the jars from the base of the canner and prevents movement as well as cracked jars. Recently I’ve switched from a solid metal rack to a silicone mesh mat and I love it!
- jar grabber – Unless you have tough hands and don’t need your fingerprints, use the jar grabber to add and remove hot jars from the canner.
- magnetic wand – Not essential but damn, it’s handy for grabbing hot jar rings and lids out of hot water.
- jars – Mostly self explanatory but it’s worth noting that I love the wide mouth (straight side) style for making pickles. It’s much easier to pack the produce into the jar with this style. Always inspect the jars for cracks and chips before re-use.
- lids and rings – Jar rings are reusable, unless they have become rusty, dented, or misshapen. Some say the lids aren’t reusable but I carefully inspect mine for any sign of warping or rust. If the rubber ring is disturbed in any way, bin it.
Pickling is a process that requires technique. After a few batches, you will get the hang of it and want to pickle anything in sight! In pickling, timing is everything. Usually the first thing I do is fill the hot water canner and set it to boil.
Next, prep the jars and lids. They should be inspected and washed. The lids and rings go into a saucepan filled with water, the jars are placed upside down in a 9 x 13 cake pan filled with 2 inches of water. Set them in a 250 F oven for 10 minutes.
Take care to prepare the asparagus, peppers, and garlic. They need to be trimmed and peeled. Measure the asparagus against the jar so that it fits in easily while you are hot packing the jar. It should reach just below where the ring sits (on the jar).
Mix up the brine in a large pot and set it to boil so that the salt is fully dissolved. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down but keep it hot and ready.
How to Pickle Asparagus
Once everything is boiling and the produce is prepped, it’s time to stuff the jars. Use the jar grabber to remove a jar from the oven. Add half of the asparagus, then add the pepper and garlic clove (and dill if using). Stuff as much asparagus as you can and ensure it is packed tightly.
Now is the time to add pickling spices and any other seasoning you’d like to use. Fill the jar with hot brine leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth.
Use the magnetic want to grab a lid from the hot water, place it on the jar and repeat with the ring. Tighten the ring slightly, but not too tight.
Fill the other jars, then lower them in to the canner.
Processing time in the hot water bath is related to altitude. Use this chart to determine how long to process your asparagus.
How Long Can I Keep Pickled Asparagus?
Once you have processed the asparagus for the requisite time, allow the asparagus to cool without disturbing the jars. The lids should seal as the jars cool. Be sure to listen for the familiar ‘pop’ sound. If a jar hasn’t sealed (the lid hasn’t depressed) refrigerate immediately.
Store the sealed jars in a dark and cool spot such as a basement. Let them sit in the brine for a few weeks before eating. They are good stored in this way for a year and up to two years.
Note that processed asparagus will change colour naturally (see after photos) and this does not affect safety. If they become cloudy, fizzy, or grow mold throw them out. As the saying goes; when it doubt, throw it out!