Twice as Tasty

Spring Asparagus Pickles

I’ll be talking about pickling your garden as part of the 7th annual Free the Seeds event on March 6

By Julie Laing
Photo by Andrea Getts

Spring must be approaching: I have not one but two pickling workshops scheduled in the next couple of weeks. One is virtual, one is in person and both are free and open to anyone.

March 6, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., I’ll be talking about pickling your garden as part of the 7th annual Free the Seeds. This Zoom presentation is one of several free, virtual workshops and conversations this weekend, along with a drive-up seed giveaway in Kalispell and Columbia Falls on March 5. In my workshop, I’ll discuss what to plant for the best pickles, the basic science of pickling and types of pickles to fit any schedule or occasion. Advance registration is required for all of the free workshops; sign up at landtohandmt.org.

March 10, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., I’ll be in person at Glacier Perks in Lakeside to talk about pickling in the Flathead. We’ll explore the many foods you can grow or buy locally to turn into pickles, relishes, salsas, beverages and more. I’ll be signing copies of my cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling, and you’ll get to taste some of the pickled foods from it.

For both workshops, I’ll inspire you with one of the first vegetables I pickle each year: asparagus. This perennial has so many pickling options – quick, refrigerated, canned and even fermented. I often make this quick-pickled version in spring with young homegrown garlic and Egyptian walking onions. For the demo in my Free the Seeds workshop, I’m swapping in a mature garlic clove and scallions.

Spring Asparagus Pickles

Makes about 4 cups

1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar (5% acidity)

1-1/2 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon Morton pickling salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

Pinch chili flakes

20 medium asparagus spears (1 pound)

2 whole spring garlic stalks, or 1 garlic clove, minced

2 whole scallions

In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and chili flakes; let infuse for 5 minutes.

Cut the ends of the asparagus off and cut the spring garlic and scallions to a similar length. In a clean, shallow container with a lid, arrange them evenly. Pour the brine over the vegetables, cover the container, and let sit for one to two hours before serving.

For longer storage, remove the garlic and scallions and strain the brine, collecting it in a large measuring cup. Pack the asparagus into two clean, tall 24-ounce jars and pour the brine over the spears, ensuring they are submerged. Screw on a nonreactive lid and store in the refrigerator, where the pickles will keep for months. 

Excerpt from The Complete Guide to Pickling, by Julie Laing, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2020 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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