Our backyard asparagus comes and goes in spurts. It’s feast or famine, nothing in between, so we’ve gotten used to having a bunch on hand, or nothing at all. Actually, it works pretty well because it can be hard to make an asparagus dish with only two or three spears, right?
Harvest has been a trickle this last weeks, and I decided to wait until we had enough to make a jar of pickles. Yes, asparagus pickles, but easy, no canning required. Garlicky, not sweet, with a good amount of dill and a bit of snap. So I made these in about 30 minutes, then stuck them in the refrigerator to brine for a couple days. You can finish them in one day and eat the next, but they are better if they sit for at least two days, and they have terrific flavor if they sit for a week or more. A few of these on the side with a sandwich or on an hors d’oeuvre plate with cheese and crackers will make you feel like you’ve given yourself an expensive treat, even though they are very inexpensive to make.
- 2 pounds (908 g) asparagus spears, trimmed 12 cm long
- 2 cups (480 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- BRINE - In the small saucepan, stir together the apple cider vinegar, water, kosher salt, mustard seed, celery seed, and dill weed. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and allow to cool uncovered.
- STEAM THE ASPARAGUS - Place the steamer basket in the pot and add about 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Arrange the trimmed asparagus around the basket and cover. Steam just until shiny and crisp tender, abut 1 minutes. Don't let them get soft or soggy. Remove from heat.
- Put the garlic cloves in the wide mouth jar, and lay it on its side. Gently lay the steamed asparagus in the jar with the tips toward the top. Pack tightly to keep the asparagus from floating in the brine. Pour the brine over the asparagus and allow to rest at room temperature for a few minutes, until the asparagus is no longer hot. Screw on the lid and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 days before eating.
1 quart wide mouth jar with lid
small saucepan with lid
large pot with lid
The steaming helps soften the asparagus spears just enough to thoroughly soak up the brine.
Refrigerator pickles will keep for up to 3 months, then they start to lose texture.