Preserving Spring: Spicy Pickled Asparagus

pickled asparagusWritten by Marisa of Food in Jars.

When I was a brand new canner, pickled asparagus was one of my very first projects. Asparagus has long been one of my favorite vegetables and so, when it went on sale in mid-spring, I bought several bundles, consulted a multitude of cookbooks and set to work.

I quickly learned that pickling asparagus was a task well worth doing (particularly since commercial versions can cost as much as $12 a jar) and added it to my list of mandatory yearly recipes. I have since made at least 100 jars and every year, I still run out well before asparagus season arrives again.

single asparagus spear

In my area, we still have at least a month before local asparagus arrives in the markets. However, for those of you who are starting to see bundles in your stores and farm shares, I highly recommend getting to work on a few jars. Here are a few things that are helpful to know before you tackle your first batch.

Use the freshest asparagus you can find for these pickles. Older asparagus shrivels a great deal during processing. It happens to some extent with every batch, but the fresher the spears, the plumper they’ll remain.

blanching asparagus

Don’t skip the blanching step. It softens the asparagus and allows the pickling liquid to soak in more effectively.

If you don’t have these handy 24 ounce jars, opt for the quilted 12 ounce jelly jars. The taller the jar, the less you have to trim away.

Oh, and save those woody ends. Simmered with spring peas and then pureed, they make a tasty, simple soup.

asparagus in brine

The recipe below makes a kicky pickled spear. If you prefer something with a little less spice, leave out the cayenne.

Spicy Pickled Asparagus
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Serves/Yield: 2 - 24 oz jars
This recipe makes a kicky pickled spear. If you prefer something with a little less spice, you can leave out the cayenne.
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit your jars
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and two 24-ounce jars (you can also substitute four 12-ounce jelly jars). Place lids in a small pan of water and bring to a bare simmer.
  2. Combine apple cider vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Fill a pan with several inches of water and bring to a boil.
  4. While the blanching pot heats, wash asparagus and trim to fit in your jars.
  5. When water is boiling, blanch asparagus for 60 seconds. When time is up, transfer asparagus to a colander and rinse with cold water.
  6. Remove jars from the canning pot and drain. Divide garlic cloves, crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper evenly between jars. Pack asparagus spears into jars.
  7. Pour pickling liquid over the asparagus, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Tap jars gently to remove any air bubbles. Add more liquid to return headspace to 1/2 inch, if necessary.
  8. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  9. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel.
  10. Let them cure for at least a week before eating.

What’s your favorite way to eat asparagus?

About Marisa

Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated small batch canner who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first book, titled Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.

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Comments

  1. I’m going to have to make some of these! I made dilly beans for the first time last year and my boys liked them more than I do! Even my picky one.
    I have your book coming in the mail and I can’t wait to get it!

  2. This is a great idea!! I never thought to pickle asparagus, but you have convinced me to!
    Tieghan’s last post: Spring Vegetable Lo Mein

  3. Such a smart idea that I have never tried before ….. love that we can have a taste of spring at any time!

  4. Once I learned to roast asparagus, I’ve never done anything differently with it. I would love to try pickled asparagus! I have made pickled green beans and absolutely loved them so I’m sure I’d enjoy pickled asparagus too! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. I’ve got to try this! I love asparagus!
    Maria’s last post: Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

  6. Cannot get enough asparagus! Love this!!
    Jenny Flake’s last post: Chili Tortellini

  7. Aimee, that sound SO GOOD! I’m definitely trying this.
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective’s last post: Meyer Lemon Tart from Roxana’s Home Baking

  8. Asparagus is my very favorite vegetable to pickle. Friends introduced me to their spicy version that I’ve been making for over 15 years = an awesome swizzle in a Bloody Mary. I love the taller jars you used – need to get me some!
    Brenda @ a farmgirl’s dabbles’s last post: Water Flavored with Fruits, Veggies, and Herbs

  9. Totally, totally gorgeous. I am a huge fan of pickled asparagus, and I have always been too intimidated- but these look easy and perfect!!

  10. Great idea, Marisa–I’ve emptied out all my jelly jars of dilly beans so I’m all set when asparagus shows up around here.

    Thanks!
    Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Fried Rice with Greens and Chicken [Cooking with Teens: Episode One]

  11. ‘Tis the season for asparagus! Pickled spears sounds so appealing right now. Since I have all the ingredients, I’ll have to give it try soon!
    Julia’s last post: Mango Chicken Curry

  12. quick question…in the picture it looks like there is maybe mustard seed in the jars? should that be in the recipe?
    Thanks

  13. this is so fun! i must give this a try soon :) i adore asparagus!!

  14. I need to try this! I’ve never even tasted pickled asparagus, but I love asparagus.
    Allison’s last post: Ham and Black Bean Salad Bowls

  15. Sounds like fun! I have been meaning to try my hand at pickled asparagus!
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking’s last post: Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad in Balsamic Vinaigrette

  16. Yum, I love asparagus :) I bet this pickled version rocks!

  17. How awesome! Catching up on posts and happy to see this one – I always need a little help for preparing asparagus!
    Marian (Sweetopia)’s last post: Which KitchenAid Large Appliances Would You Pick?

  18. I love pickled asparagus! I have a bunch in the pantry still from last year, my recipe uses whole jalapenos.
    Hanna’s last post: Pretty, Handmade things for your Kitchen

  19. Lovely spicy stalks! I’m not even a huge asparagus fan and I would definitely try these. Beautiful!
    Tracy’s last post: Individual Rhubarb Tiramisu Trifles

  20. Kara E. says:

    I’m getting ready to make these this week! Just got some asparagus in my CSA again, so instead of roasting it, I’m going to pickle it. Yeah!!!

  21. This here recipe piqued my interest and I love how simple & straight forward it is. Went to my favorite local garden spot and purchased scads of asparagus for it.

  22. I too was wondering what seed/etc are floating in the picture

  23. I made the asparagus per your recipe and used a large stock pot and boiled jars for ten minutes per the instructions but I did not use a pressurized canning pot. Are they still safe from botulism?

  24. Marisa, I just completed my first batch and followed your instructions. After the blanching the asparagus looked perfectly beautiful, bright green. However, after adding the hot liquid and doing the hot water bath the asparagus turned a darker, less appealing shade of green. Is this normal?

  25. Hi do you think that you can use Bragg raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in this recipe ?

  26. I just made this and was a little disappointed. If you make two 24 oz jars you need more than 3 cups of liquid. 3 cups only fills one 24 oz jar.

  27. I made two batches last year and found them so good, it was hard to not just open a jar and eat from it. :) I bought a box of 24-oz. jars just for these, and I’m happy to say I have 9 jars cooling on my counter as I type!

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