July 6, 2010

Spicy Pickled Asparagus

Let’s be honest, canning can be hot, sweaty, labor-intensive work.  But there’s nothing quite like glossy rows of colorful jams, vegetables, fruits and sauces or the pop of jars sealing.  It reminds me of all of the summers spent cooking with my grandma and my mom – the women who passed on to me their love of gardening, cooking and baking. 
Yesterday my friend, Claire, and I got together and pickled a few jars of asparagus.  It’s been a late summer in Oregon and good asparagus is still available. 
We loosely used a recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.  We were able to fill 7 quart jars (one batch in my water bath canner). 
14 large garlic cloves
7 hot red peppers, cut in half length-wise
6-7 bunches of asparagus, tough ends trimmed to fit upright in the jars
1/4 cup pickling spice
10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) water
10 cups white vinegar
3 Tbs pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
Sterilize jars in the dishwasher or a pot of simmering water for 10 minutes.  In addition, put a few cups of water in a small sauce pan and toss in the lids. Keep the lids hot (just below a simmer) until you’re ready to use them.
While they are still hot, fill each jar with asparagus, 2 cloves of garlic and two pepper halves.  We found it helpful to pack the jars almost full with asparagus and then tuck the peppers and garlic in around the edges. 
In a LARGE pot, bring the pickling spice, water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil.  Turn it down to low.  Carefully pour the pickling liquid into each jar.  Use a canning funnel.  Don’t be stubborn like me and end up with blisteringly hot liquid all over your counter.  Leave a 1/2” of space in the top of the jar (AKA head room). 
Top each jar with a lid and screw on the band.  Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Let the jars cool.  Make sure they all seal (the middle of the lid shouldn’t move when you push on it).  Wait at least 2 days, if not 2 weeks, before you open the jars.

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