936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
All winter I long for the fresh, local flavors of the farmers market. Dare I say I romanticize the market in my mind, with wistful thoughts of colorful vegetable displays, boasting of bright bell peppers, deep purple eggplants, and an array of green hues from jalapeno peppers to watermelons. And then it happens: the market opens, only with far less to offer than my expectant daydreams.
Summer at the farmers market carries a great bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but early spring renders far less variety. Instead of being discouraged by the more meager offerings of the early farmers market season, I’ve learned to appreciate the fewer, but in no way subordinate, flavors of spring.
This past weekend at the market we found gorgeous purple and green asparagus, fresh dill, and baby (or green) garlic. This recipe for pickled asparagus is a beautifully simple and delicious way to revel in the flavors of spring all year long.
Pickled asparagus is a delicious garnish to sandwiches, wraps, and salads; or at a cookout on natural hot dogs, burgers and brats. It is also a great snack or appetizer on its own, or rolled up in cheese and ham.
I know there seem to be a lot of steps, but that’s because I wanted to be as detailed as possible in the instructions. Canning asparagus really is a simple process; and once you get the hang of it, it can be a fairly quick process as well. Trust me–the work is worth it!
(Makes four 1.5 pint jars)
Choose firm, bright green (or purple) asparagus stalks with plump, tightly closed tips. Fading color is a sign of deterioration. Check the stem ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled or dried out.
Purple Asparagus is slightly sweeter than green. If you can find it, try pickling a mixture of green and purple in each jar for variety.
I bought my equipment new from Farm and Fleet for the prices listed below, but you could buy it used for cheaper.
1) Unscrew the lid rings and remove lids
2) Place wire rack in the bottom of your pan
3) Place jars, lids, and lid rings in the pot; cover with water
4) Bring the pot to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat
5) Leave everything in the pot of hot water until you are ready to fill your jars
1) Begin by washing your asparagus. I simply placed all of my asparagus in the sink, covered them in cold water, and thoroughly “swished” them in the water until all of the dirt was released. I then drained the water and thoroughly rinsed them.
2) In one hand, line up the tips of the asparagus in manageable handfuls.
3) Cut your asparagus into about 6-inch spears. The easiest way I found to do this is to lay a measuring tape or ruler along a cutting board, lay your handful of asparagus next to it with the tips at the 6-inch mark, and cut the stems at the “0” mark”.
4) Do not discard the stems! We will actually have no waste from the asparagus, but I’ll get into that shortly. For now just set them aside.
1) Rinse your baby garlic
2) Slice off the root tip from the clove; discard root tip
3) Cut the clove from the stem
4) Thinly slice the stalks from the white through a couple of inches of green (just like with green onions)
5) Save the cloves and slices of stalk. Set aside the remaining green stalk with your asparagus ends
Bring the brine to a boil in a separate medium pot or sauce pan.
Okay–back to the asparagus ends. Hold each opposite end, and bend until they snap at their natural breaking point. You’ll end up with two small pieces.
The original end of the spear is not edible as it has a hard, woody taste. You don’t have to waste it, however; instead place it into a freezer bag. This freezer bag can become your “veggie ends and pieces bag”. Every time you’re trimming vegetables, save the inedible pieces in this bag in your freezer, then throw them all into a pot next time you’re making your own chicken or vegetable stock.
This is also where you can put the remaining green stalks from your baby garlic.
The other piece, originally the middle of the asparagus spear, is edible and can be used in future recipes. Store these pieces in your fridge to use that week, or in the freezer for later use.
1) Lift a sanitized jar out of the water with tongs, pouring the water back into the pot
2) Place two large pinches of your sliced baby garlic in the bottom of the jar
3) Fill the jar with asparagus spears, leaving some room around the edges. Asparagus spears should come up to the top of the jar
4) Tuck a few sprigs of (rinsed) fresh dill, and two cloves of baby garlic around the edges of the jar
5) Continue packing asparagus spears around the edges of the jar until completely packed
6) Optional–sprinkle finely chopped dried chili peppers (or dried pepper flakes) on top of asparagus
7) Pour boiling brine into jar until it comes to about 1/2 inch of the top
8) Wipe rim of jar with clean, damp washcloth or paper towel
9) Using magnetic lid lifter, lift lid and lid rim out of water. Place lid on jar, pushing down if need be, while screwing lid rim on to close. Screw on snugly, but not with all of your might.
10) Using jar grabber, lower jar back into water, making sure it remains upright
11) Repeat with all four jars. Jars should be submerged with at least 2 inches of water covering them, so add more water if need be. Bring pot back to a boil, and boil the jars for 10 minutes.
12) Using jar grabber lift jars out of the pot. Set jars on a towel where they will not be bumped or disturbed for 24 hours. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it.
13) Sealed jars should sit for 4-5 days before opening for best flavor.
Give yourself a couple of hours for your first go at this. You won’t be disappointed a few days later, when at last you can open and enjoy your first jar of pickled asparagus.
You’ll be thanking yourself even more come January, when the only asparagus to be found at the market has been shipped from across an ocean, offering only wilted, dull, bitter-tasting spears, and costs an arm and a leg. In your pantry however can be found a scrumptious jar of pickled asparagus grown by a local farmer and preserved by your own hands!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!