Tag Archives: asparagus

Let the Canning Commence

Last summer I helped my friend Joan of Olds Farm plant, weed, feed, harvest and shuck her wares. I even dragged the kids along with me a few times. Needless to say, Dylan no longer wants to be a farmer.  In exchange, I received a great bounty of produce and farm-fresh meats. It was win-win.

So, when she called last month and asked me to help her run her tables at the Farmers’ Market for three weeks, of course I said yes. Each week I came home with a giant box of goodies. Spring greens, ground beef, chicken and pork sausages, garlic, leeks, onions and . . . asparagus!

The first week I grilled all the asparagus and spring onions I brought home and consumed them within three days. The second week I brought home a much larger bag of asparagus. I continued to grill and eat large quantities of asparagus, but there was actually enough left over to can and freeze some.

Photo by Tiffany Copeland Godden.

Yesterday, a terrible storm blew in and it rained all morning. At one point, the sky was so black that it appeared to be evening and it was so still I thought there would be a tornado. Yard work was out of the question and the house was nice and cool so  the weather was perfect for canning.

I dragged out the giant bag of asparagus and my pickled asparagus recipe from the Can Jam. The recipe is there in a step-by-step illustrated version, or you can download the printable copy here: French Tarragon Pickled Asparagus Printable

I didn’t get seven jars this time, but I also didn’t weigh/count my spears. I only had these five, tall-ish jars available, so I cut enough spears to fit into the jars. When I was done I had enough asparagus left over for one more dinner and a pint of frozen asparagus.

I’ve never frozen asparagus before and I was afraid it would all turn to mush so I searched The InterWebs for advice. After consulting various “experts”, I decided to take none of their advice and do it my own way. I present to you The Method.

The Method

  1. Clean and cut your asparagus spears.
  2. Fill a CLEAN kitchen sink or large pot with ice and water.
  3. Bring a pan of water large enough to hold all of your asparagus to a boil.
  4. Set a timer for one minute.
  5. Rapidly add all the cut pieces of asparagus to the boiling water.
  6. As the timer counts down to zero-ish, remove the pan from the stove.
  7. Quickly drain the asparagus and add the hot pieces to the ice bath.
  8. Stir the spears around in the bath to quickly cool them.
  9. Remove the cut pieces to a towel to drain.
  10. Spread the cooled pieces onto a plate or cookie sheet and place in freezer.
  11. After the pieces are individually frozen, place them in a freezer container.
1 pint frozen asparagus

Yum.

Okay, so most people blanch their asparagus, but I did it for less than a minute and I was really quick about getting it into the ice bath. Conflicting info from the internet makes me wonder if this will help at all, but I’m hopeful. They look beautiful at least.

Storage count: 2.25 quarts pickles.5 quarts frozen vegetables

1 Comment

Filed under canning, food

May Can Jam ~ Pickled Asparagus

I have to admit that until now I’ve never actually eaten a pickled asparagus spear.  I love pickled cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.  Pickled onions are yummy and “dilly” beans are delicious.   Up ’til now, the occasion has just not presented itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus.  I was sure that I would love pickled asparagus.  I have looked at expensive little jars of pickled asparagus, but couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 for one little jar.  So, when the Can Jam ingredients were announced, I knew what I was going to do.  

I googled recipes; bought tall, 12 oz. jelly jars; picked up five pounds of asparagus from Olds’ Farm at the Farmers’ Market and created this: 

Tarragon Pickled Asparagus 

(Makes 7 – 12 oz. jelly jars.)

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

  • Start with about 100 spears of asparagus trimmed to fit into tall jelly jars.  (I started with five pounds, but I only used the top four inches or so of each spear for my pickling and had enough spears left over to serve with dinner the next day.)

  

For the Brine: 

  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 3 cups water

To each jar add: 

aromatics

Seasonings to be added to each jar.

  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 allspice
  • 30-40 brown mustard seeds
  • 3″ sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 wild leek trimmed to fit

I did not blanch my asparagus first.  I found recipes that called for it and recipes that didn’t.  I contemplated it, but decided that asparagus turns brown enough when you cook it so it doesn’t need  a minute of cooking in addition to the ten minutes in the boiling water bath.  The only benefit I can see to blanching is that the spears are more pliable so that you could fit more spears into a jar. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Place canning jars into canning pot, fill with water and set on stove to brings to a boil. 
  2. If you haven’t already, wash asparagus and trim to fit the height of your jars.  If you use the tougher bottom ends of the asparagus, you may need to peel them but the tender top bits shouldn’t need to be peeled.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan.  When the water bath comes to a boil, bring the brine to a boil.
  4. Remove jars from canner one at a time and start packing:
  5. Add peppercorns, allspice and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.  Fill the jar about halfway with spears (tips up), tuck a sprig of tarragon into the jar and finish packing.  Once the jar seems full, shove the leek between the spears bulb-end up.  This will help keep the spears from moving around.

    Asparagus ready to be brined.

    Jar packed and ready to be filled with brine.

  6. In the picture above you will notice some asparagus “bottoms” visible.  Some of my spears were long enough to use both the bottom and the top of the spear so I peeled the bottoms of the longer spears and added them to the jars.  Once the jar is full ladle hot brine into the jar leaving head space and seal the jar.
  7. Work quickly to pack the rest of your jars; by the time I finished packing the seventh jar, my first jars were already browning.  Once the jars are full, return them to the boiling water bath and process for ten minutes. 
  8. Pull the beautiful jars out and wait for that rewarding, “Pop!”
Finished Jars of Pickled Asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus Spears

9 Comments

Filed under canning

May Can Jam Preview

Spring has finally sprung!  Ok, so it’s less than forty degrees, the forecast for today was snow and we’re under a frost advisory.  But, the spring produce doesn’t seem to care.  Wild leeks and morels have been showing their faces for a while now and even strawberries have appeared recently although they were helped along by a greenhouse.  

Despite the miserable weather, the Sara Hardy outdoor farmers’ market opened for the season today.  My honey purveyor was there along with numerous farmers selling plant starts and potted plants, syrup, greens, baggies of morels, cheese rhubarb and the veggie I’ve been waiting for . . . Asparagus! 

I’ve been hoping the Can Jam Challenge would feature asparagus ever since I signed up for it.  I saw some lovely pickled asparagus spears at Oryana for a ridiculous price last winter and decided that I should try pickling my own.  Now, Sarah at Toronto Tasting Notes has come through for me!  Actually, she was kind enough to give me a choice: asparagus or rhubarb.  Both are delicious, and fortunately making their appearances now. 

I might still venture a rhubarb attempt, but look what I brought home today:

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

Joanne Olds was shivering in the rain at the outdoor farmer’ market.  So, even though I was headed to the indoor market I bought my asparagus from her instead of her son, Josh.  I bought five pounds.  The photo shows the spears cleaned and trimmed.  You’ll have to check back in a couple of weeks to see what becomes of them.

3 Comments

Filed under canning

Missed Opportunity

I’ve been waiting for asparagus to appear.  I’ve seen posts from other Michigan bloggers with pics of tender spring asparagus.  I finally found some in my little asparagus “bed”.  About two days too late I think. 
The only asparagus in the patch.
Too late.

1 Comment

Filed under gardening