Asparagus ranks high among foods that should only be eaten in season. The quality and flavor of asparagus that’s in season in your area is far superior than supermarket asparagus any other time of year. It’s too bad asparagus season is short, maybe 4 or 5 weeks where we live. And, I eat loads of it so that when it’s done, I can accept the fact that I won’t have it again until the following spring.
When one of my favorite fruits or vegetables is nearing then end of its natural season, I try to put at least some of it into jars and preserve it. Even if you’re not into traditional canning using a pressure canner or a water bath, you can make asparagus refrigerator pickles. They won’t store in your pantry all winter, but they will keep in the fridge for about 2 months – that is, IF you don’t gobble them up within days.
I discovered this recipe for asparagus refrigerator pickles when I had lots of asparagus on hand and tons of dill growing in the garden. Of course, I had to inspect the plant closely before I snipped the sprigs to be sure it wasn’t playing host to any future butterflies. I also needed a reason to use my cool Weck jars that aren’t suited for traditional canning.
If any sort of pickle makes you think of Bloody Marys, then you’re my kind of person! These make delicious garnishes for this perfect Sunday afternoon cocktail. Don’t throw out the brine when you’ve eaten the pickles! Whisk it with olive oil for a wonderful light vinaigrette.
This recipe is adapted from Kay Chun’s recipe that appeared on Food and Wine. The original recipe uses 24-ounce jars which are a little un-standard. I happened to have 2 3/4 liter Weck jars which are about 24 ounces. You could totally use quart jars as well.
Ingredients (Makes enough for 2 24-ounce jars)
2 pounds of asparagus, ends trimmed down enough for spears to fit vertically into your jars and be later submerged by brine.
Tip: Cut one spear to fit your jar and then use it as your “reference” for cutting the rest about the same length.
6 sprigs fresh dill
12 dried chiles de arbol
12 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat part of a knife
2 Tbsp. black or mixed peppercorns
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
4 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
Place half the asparagus, dill sprigs, dried chiles, garlic, peppercorns and mustard seeds into each of your jars. Combine vinegar, salt and sugar with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
Ladle the brine into the jars, completely covering the asparagus and other goodies in the jars. Some of the spears may pop up out of the brine – no worries, just fasten the lids on the jars to push them back down into the liquid. Place jars into the refrigerator and let them sit for at least 3 days before enjoying.