Can Jam May: Spicy Pickled Asparagus

As some of you know, I have committed to [hot water bath] canning one seasonal ingredient per month for all 12 months of 2010 as part of The Tigress Can Jam. For the May Can Jam, we were given a choice between asparagus and rhubarb. I was STOKED to make rhubarb preserves, but since my CSA doesn’t start until June 1st and the grocers around here are limited, I couldn’t find any rhubarb. So, asparagus it is…. The asparagus I’m using is from Peru, though, so it’s not that seasonal, and certainly not local. Lately I’ve been making super-small batches for my Can Jam entries, and it’s for just that very reason–why preserve something that isn’t really worth preserving? Once my CSA starts on June 1st, I’ll be getting a bounty of fresh, local, organic produce weekly, and I hope to increase the yield of my recipes. The below recipe yields 1 tall jelly jar–what is that a 12-ouncer?

Recipe modified from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you are new to canning, ONLY use recipes in published books and follow canning instructions rigorously.

Spicy Pickled Asparagus

  • Enough asparagus to fill 1 12-oz jar (trim off woody end)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  1. Clean jar and lid; prepare canner. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read THIS post from Tigress.
  2. Bring to a boil in a saucepan: vinegar, salt, pepper flakes, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and garlic. When boiling, add asparagus and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Pack asparagus tip side down into jar (this way the pretty tips don’t get damaged when removing them later–a Ball trick!). Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace; remove air bubbles with a chopstick, and adjust headspace as needed. Clean rim, and place lid on center of jar. Screw on band until fingertip-tight.
  4. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner; then turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes, remove jar, cool and store.

In Chinese medicine, the Spring season corresponds to the sour flavor. I have really been craving sour, vinegary foods lately, and I’m hoping that with the super vinegary pickling brine and ample spices these will be a spicy-savory Spring time treat. I will report back when we eat them.

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  1. Posted May 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow! What a beautiful picture! Nice tip about puting the spears in tip first too.

  2. Jess yoursisterinlaw
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Ummmm…. pickled food….

  3. Kristin
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    When you process in a boiling water canner, do you mean just stovetop processing (not a pressure canner)? Thanks.

  4. Alexa
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kristin: Yes, I mean standard boiling water canner. All the recipes on this site are only boiling water canner friendly. (The Tigress Can Jam is specifically for water bath canning only, too, FYI). Thanks for the question though. Did you make the asparagus?

  5. Mary
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Interesting… I always thought anything non-acidic needed to be pressure canned. I’d love to try this recipe but I’m afraid of water bath canning for foods other than tomatoes.

  6. Alexa
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mary, thanks for your comment. You’re correct that non-acidic foods (like beans, meats, and vegetables) need to be pressure canned, but only if they’re NOT being pickled. Since the vinegar in the brine substantially lowers the pH, it is fine to water bath can pickled asparagus, green beans, or cucumbers. Check out any canning/preserving book for more information about what should/shouldn’t be hot water bath canned. If you are new to canning follow published recipes, and the USDA recommendations rigorously.

  7. Mary
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the input. I bought some pickled asparagus at a country market and it was SOOO good! I’m going to try it next year when the asparagus comes back in season. I think I’ll try some beans from my plants this year too. Thanks for responding!

  8. Kristin
    Posted July 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I ended up scarfing all of my asparagus fresh— but I’ll definitely try this next time. Sounds delicious! Thanks for your reply.

  9. Posted June 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Will the asparagus be soft and mushy, or firm? Grandma used alum in her pickles and they were crunchy; can I ad alum to asparagus as well? Thank You.

  10. Posted July 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Loved this recipe. I do a lot of canning & this one is so easy & quick.

  11. Denae
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I have to make this for my husband sometime! It looks great! Thanks for sharing!

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