I confess that the very idea of pickling puts me in a panic. The time, the fuss. But given this year's abundant asparagus crop, I've run out of ways to eat up spring. Here then is a fool-proof recipe for pickled asparagus that tastes just fine the day it's made and even better several days, weeks, months hence. Put these up in small batches and store them in the fridge, eliminating the need for "canning"-- no boiling pots and uncertain sealed lids. These are great on a cheese platter, alongside grilled brats, or sliced and tossed into an egg or tuna salad.
You'll notice the brine doesn't cover them completely, which is fine. Just turn the jars every so often. They won't last long, anyway.
Makes 3 pints
5 pounds asparagus
2-1/4 cups white wine vinegar
2-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt*
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
Trim the asparagus so that they will fit into pint sized jars (or 1 to 2 quart sized jars). To make them fit into the pint sized jars, you'll be cutting about 3 inches from the bottom. (Save those to steam for a salad or use in soup.)
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds then drain in a colander and run under cold water.
In a large saucepan mix together the vinegar, water, salt, garlic pepper flakes, allspice, and coriander. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and remove from the heat.
Pack the asparagus standing upright into clean jars. Fill the jars with the vinegar solution. Cover immediately then allow to cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. Let them sit a day before eating. They'll taste sharp for the first few days and mellow over time.