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Perfectly Pickled Asparagus – Say That 10 Times, FAST!

Pickled Asparagus Recipe

Okay – I am rolling out the spring recipes!

My farmer’s market had beautiful asparagus this week, so I indulged and whipped up a batch of perfectly pickled asparagus. Later in the year, I will serve these yummy spears with cheese, crackers and wine. But of course they also make a tasty snack right out of the jar.

There are several advantages to this recipe:

  • Quantity adjustments are easy! You can make more or less based on how much asparagus you have. Just mix up the amount of brine you need but always keep the ratios the same (vinegar/water/sugar/salt).
  • Make it your own! The spices I have listed here give it just a little bite. But you can add, subtract or substitute spices as you choose. Want to add more heat? No problem. Want some dill or fennel in there? Go for it.

Once you have your jars filled and processed, let them set on the shelf at least two weeks so the spices have a chance to flavor the veggies. After that, all bets are off and you can open the jar anytime!

Choose Your Jar Size Carefully:

To make this recipe you have to cut the asparagus to fit inside the jar while leaving the proper headspace. You can place them inside tip up or tip down. But either way, some of the asparagus must be sacrificed to fit. So pick the tallest jar you have on hand.

Pickled Asparagus

I originally created this recipe (years ago) using the tall 12 oz. jars for filling. (That is a 12 oz jar on the right. They are taller and skinnier than 1/2 pint jars.) And yes – in case you are wondering – you could even use 1/2 pint jars if you wanted to as long as you understand the shorter jar means you would only have pickled “tips” (no long spears). For me, I think the taller the jar is better.

However, recently Ball Canning started making the wide-mouth, pint and a half jars again. (That is a 1.5 pint jar – or 24 oz. jar – on the left.) Have you seen these? They are great for things like asparagus. They have been off the market for years, but you can find them now or buy them online. (Affiliate link)

The down side is that each jar holds a lot more pickled asparagus and you may prefer the smaller jars for an evening of wine and cheese. But because these jars are so tall, you end up with a lot more pickle for your effort. I like that. Another option is to use the tall Weck jars. (As seen in my lemon vodka recipe.) But they are much more expensive. Just pick the tallest jar you can so that you get more pickle for your…well, buck (so to speak).

But Isn’t Cutting Off The Tips Wasteful?

Pickled Asparagus

Well…ONLY if you through all those beautiful asparagus stems away! So don’t!!

In our house, the cut off stems are what’s for dinner! I just cut off the very bottom because that is usually dry & tough. But on a truly fresh asparagus stem, the middle portion is tender and delicious. You don’t want to waste that.

The Trick To A Good Pickle:

You KNEW I would give you a secret master canner tip, right? Well, here it is…

The secret to a good pickle (any pickle) is in the freshness of the thing you are pickling. You always want to use fresh picked produce. Don’t walk into the grocery store, buy produce that was picked weeks ago and expect to get a pickle that holds up well. Nope. You need produce that is fresh as possible – as in HOURS not DAYS from the garden.

Here is your recipe:

Pickled Asparagus

Makes 5 (12 oz. jars) or 2-3 (1.5 pint jars)

This recipe uses lemon slices and spices for flavor. It is okay to omit these and change the spices to something else. It is NOT okay to adjust the vinegar, water, sugar or salt. The vinegar/water are set for safety. The sugar/salt affect the acidity flavor balance. Use pickling salt for a clear brine. (See this post on salt for more info.)

Ingredients:

  • Making Pickled Asparagus5 round slices of lemon
  • 5 peeled cloves of garlic
  • 25 whole black peppercorns
  • 20 whole allspice berries
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • About 3 pounds asparagus (trimmed to fit into jars)
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. pickling or kosher salt

1) Prepare your water bath and jar lids. Place a round of lemon at the bottom of each jar. Then divide the garlic, peppercorns, allspice and red pepper flakes among your clean canning jars.

2) Pack the asparagus (spears up or down – your choice) until each jar is full. If you have one jar that is less than full, that is okay.

3) In a non-reactive saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil until sugar and salt is dissolved.

4) Ladle the hot liquid over the asparagus, leaving a ½ inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to run around the edge dislodging any bubbles. Refill if necessary to keep the proper headspace.

5) Wipe the rims and add canning lids to finger tight. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes for 12 oz jars or 15 min for 1.5 pint jars. Cool and label. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator. Seal jars may be stored on the pantry shelf. Try to wait at least 2 weeks before eating so that the asparagus has a chance to absorb the flavors.

Do you like to pickle asparagus? What’s YOUR method?

Tell me in the comments!

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.

15 Comments:

  • I just made 15 qts. of pickled asparagus, using the Ball Canning book recipe. Can’t wait to try your’s. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Kathy Hutton says:

    Save the ends for your veggie stock. They get thrown away anyway.

  • Kathy Hutton says:

    I bought 3 lbs of asparagus, the tops only filled 4 12oz quilted jars. So I cut up the rest of the tender parts and pickled them. Resulting in 8 jars of pickled asparagus. I figured they may not be pretty but they should taste just as good.

  • debbra hunt says:

    I actually pickle the tips I cut off and use them in salads…. I have kids who have their moms buy a jar of those from me because they like them better.

  • I searched high and low for a pickled asparagus recipe that used very little sugar and called for pint-and-a-half jars — here I am! I made a triple batch today, (as I wanted to use all nine jars in the package,) and found that the quantity of asparagus called for was far too much. I got nine pint-and-a-half jars plus 2 1/2 pints of just spears, and rounded out the canner with three more jars of pickled trimmings, and I still have a huge bowl of trimmings left! I also quadrupled the brine recipe, which was smart — I would have run out otherwise. (And I jammed as many spears in each jar as humanly possible!) I’d suggest 7 or 8 pounds of asparagus if you plan to size up.

    • theresa says:

      Thanks so much for letting me know Catherine. But I am glad you were able to find me. 🙂

      • Faith E. says:

        If you want to cut down on the sugar, and use a natural sugar instead, I used honey when I recently pickled some asparagus.

  • Faith E. says:

    So, I recently tested pickling some asparagus. I used fresh asparagus, straight from the farm. I used a 1 1/2 pt. jar. I processed it in a rolling boil for 15 minutes. (It was in the hot water for longer while the pot came back up to a boil.) The spears all have indented lines in them. Like the way too old asparagus looks at the grocery store. I am hoping to pick next week, and put up many jars. However, I would like to avoid the unsightly lines. Any thoughts? (I did refrigerator pickle one jar, and that one is fine.) I am also hoping they are not terribly mushy.

  • Hedy Korbee says:

    I am pickling for the first time and would like to know if I need to cool the asparagus first. Thanks.

  • Kate says:

    Hi – would I be able to use all the ingredients as shown to make a quick refrigerator asparagus pickle? ( just leave out the canning part)

  • Cathay Moreau says:

    I have never made pickled asparagus and am eager to try next spring when asparagus is plentiful and cheaper.
    My question is can it be made without processing it? When I make my dill pickles I don’t use a canner and they turn out delicious .
    Can you advise me please?

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