My Asparagus is in a Pickle
I love asparagus! I’m sure you do too and that’s why you’re here. This time of year my family just can’t get enough of it. I did another bulk buy last week and purchased 10 pounds of asparagus for $15. That’s a great price for the beginning of the season.
We ate it with eggs and Hollandaise sauce a few times. We ate it plain with butter (my personal favorite).
After 4 days of fresh asparagus, it’s time to find ways to put the leftovers into storage.
There are several ways to preserve your asparagus for the long and dreary months when it costs $4.99 a pound in the grocery. Believe me, if you love asparagus, you’ll be glad you purchased some now and learned how to preserve it.
3 Ways to Preserve Asparagus
#1 Blanch and Freeze your Asparagus
The process for blanching vegetables includes boiling them in hot water for a specified period of time. Usually 2 to 5 minutes depending on the vegetable. The blanching time for medium size stalks of asparagus is 3 minutes. You can get all the details about how to do it in our previous post, To Blanch or Not to Blanch.
I like to take shortcuts with my blanching and freezing if I can get away with it. It’s my personal preference to skip this step with asparagus. It’s not something that the USDA or a Master Canner would probably recommend, but I have personally had great success skipping the blanching step with asparagus.
Here’s what you could do: Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. If you plan on using them in a frittata or soup in the next three months, skip the blanching altogether. If you plan on keeping the asparagus in the freezer for up to a year, then blanch and freeze is the recommended method.
#2 Pickle your Asparagus
I think this might be my second favorite way to eat asparagus! Here’s how to preserve asparagus spears in a water bath canner. Makes 7 pints, depending on the height of your jars.
- 5 pounds of asparagus spears, washed, dried and cut 1 inch shorter than your pint jars.
- Pack them vertically into clean, hot jars.
- On the stove top: in a non-reactive pan, combine 5 cups apple cider vinegar, 1-1/4 cup water, a heaping 1/4 cup of canning salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons of pickling spice, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) and 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped, garlic.
- Bring the brine to a low boil for 5 minutes.
- Divide the hot brine and spices evenly between your canning jars by ladling in the brine until the asparagus is completely covered.
- Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the jar and the liquid. Process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner.
You can safely adjust the amount of spice, pepper flakes and garlic to make your asparagus spears more or less spicy. You cannot safely change the vinegar -water – salt ratio if you plan on water bath canning this recipe. See our previous post on water bath canning for in-depth directions.
Of course, you could create the brine, cover them and place the jars the refrigerator. It will take about 48 hours for the brine to flavor the asparagus. These will last in your refrigerator for an extended period of time – to up to 30 days (if you can keep them around that long).
#3 Use the ends to make your own Asparagus Stock
Once you have those beautiful spears pickled, you will be left with six to eight cups of leftover stalks. These are perfectly good for using in soups, with eggs and other ways you would normally use asparagus.
Simple Asparagus Stock. Makes about 2 quarts.
6 cups asparagus ends
9 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1 handful parsley sprigs
1 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any impurities that rise to the top. Turn heat down to low and cover with lid. Simmer for an hour. Remove from heat and strain or use a stick blender to create a smooth consistency. Cool completely before storing.
Keep your vegetable stock in the refrigerator for about two weeks or in your freezer for six months.
I’ve created a free handy checklist for you! I call it The Canning Checklist. It doesn’t have a fancy name…but it sure is handy when you’re canning!
Use it as a reference for the entire canning process. You’ll find it helpful to have a step-by-step reference for where you’re at in the process – when do you adjust the heat, how long should you process these jars for, how much water goes into a pressure canner? You get the idea.
The canning checklist has it all spelled out in simple steps, so there is no more guessing. If you find yourself lost in the process of canning, this may be the answer.
What are bulk buys? I like to purchase fruits, vegetables, and grains at wholesale prices and “put them up” for future use. It saves my family a ton of money! Some previous bulk buys I’ve done – tomatoes – chia seed – quinoa – oranges – sweet potato – Yukon gold potato – Walla Walla onion
What is your favorite way to preserve asparagus? Share your favorite way in the comments below.