Pickled Asparagus

At some point, even I run out of ways to eat fresh asparagus. That’s when I turn to brine. Get pickling recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Whether you grow it or buy it, asparagus will be among your first spring vegetables. These green, purple, and even white spears can star on your table meal after meal until other produce ripens. I start with Grilled Asparagus as a standalone side dish with some lemon and herbs. I also serve it over arugula or with pasta in a salad. It’s delicious served under hollandaise or on pizza, stirred into risotto, baked into a frittata, or tossed in a stir-fry.

At some point, even I run out of ways to eat fresh asparagus. Whether you grow your own patch or buy bundles in season, you too probably end up with more asparagus in your kitchen than you can eat in one meal. But you don’t want to ignore it: the asparagus season ends as quickly as it arrives. That’s when I fill a jar or two with a brine. Although you can process pickled asparagus in a boiling water bath, it keeps its flavor and texture better when it heads straight to the table or rests in the fridge.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 1 main ingredient plus some vinegar and spices or other flavorings.
1. Add the spices to a jar.
2. Pack in the asparagus spears and any other flavors.
3. Pour in hot vinegar brine.
4. Cool, chill, and enjoy.

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Asparagus Refrigerator Pickles

  • Servings: 1 24-ounce jar
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
8 whole black peppercorns
8 whole coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
about 8 ounces asparagus
1 garlic scape or large clove
1 lemon slice
1 Smoked Chili
3/4 cup white wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Add the whole spices to a tall 24-ounce jar. Cut the asparagus spears and garlic scapes, if using, so that they are about 3/4 inch shorter than the jar rim, and then tightly pack them into the jar, sliding in any garlic cloves, lemon slices, and dried chili as you go.

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, stirring, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Pour the hot liquid over the asparagus, entirely covering the spears with brine while leaving about 1/2-inch headspace. Fold a paper towel into a square that covers the jar opening and lay it over the asparagus to keep the tips submerged. Leave at room temperature to cool; set aside any remaining brine.

When the brine has cooled, remove the paper towel and top off with remaining brine if needed (use undiluted vinegar if you ran out of brine). Screw on a plastic storage lid and transfer the jar to the refrigerator. Let sit at least 3 days before eating. Makes 1 24-ounce jar.

Tips & Tricks
  • Many pickled asparagus recipes call for blanching, but this is a holdover from freezing techniques. Raw asparagus spears keep their crunch even after the pickles have sat several weeks. You’ll lose the color, though; for bright green and purple spears, try a quick pickle (see below).
  • The best jars for your asparagus spears will be tall but straight sided. I use 24-ounce wide-mouth jars for my fridge and divide the spices between 12-ounce jelly jars for gifts. Although you can top fridge pickles with old canning lids and rings, I find the vinegar affects the metal over time, so I prefer plastic storage lids.
  • Fridge pickles are ready in days but keep for months. If the spices seem too mild, let the pickles sit longer; the brine intensifies over time. If the flavors are becoming too strong, strain out the spices.
  • I started pickling asparagus so that I could use drop them into Grilled Tomato Bloody Marys. But I’ve grown to love them in many other dishes. Try them on breakfast sandwiches made with Sourdough English Muffins or in place of pickled beans in Basic Potato Salad.

At some point, even I run out of ways to eat fresh asparagus. That’s when I turn to brine. Get pickling recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

At some point, even I run out of ways to eat fresh asparagus. That’s when I turn to brine. Get pickling recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.If you search for “quick asparagus pickles” online, you’ll find everything from mealtime pickles to fridge pickles to canning recipes to ferments. My definition of “quick” is a little narrower: In the time it takes me to prep a Twice as Tasty Live event, the pickle has to be ready for guests to eat.

Asparagus seems an unlikely choice at first. It takes less effort than Quick-Pickled Beet Snacks but more time than Quick-Pickled Cucumber Salad. But I love asparagus as a quick pickle for two main reasons: any asparagus keeps its fresh flavor under the vinegar bite, and purple asparagus in particular holds onto its bright color. In addition, the vinegar brine infuses those spears far more rapidly than you might think. You’ll get the best results if you start with freshly harvested asparagus; the older the asparagus, the woodier it can be, regardless of size. When done right, quickly pickled asparagus spears wow the guests every time.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 main ingredients plus vinegar and seasonings.
1. Infuse the vinegar brine with the seasonings.
2. Pour it over the asparagus, young garlic, and scallions.
3. Wait and hour or two and then enjoy.

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Quick-Pickled Asparagus

  • Servings: 1 pound
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar (5% acidity)
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of smoked chili flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 pound asparagus
2 green garlic bulbs
2 walking onions or scallions

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the solids. Remove the pan from the heat and add the spices; set aside for 5 minutes to infuse.

Snap the woody ends from the asparagus, and trim them as needed so that they fit in a shallow baking dish or other flat container. Trim the ends from the garlic and onions, and then cut the whites and greens to a similar length. Arrange the vegetables evenly in the dish. Pour the brine on top, cover the dish with a tea towel, and let the pickles sit for 1–2 hours before serving. Makes about 1 pound.

Tips & Tricks
  • When stuffed straight into jars and then covered with brine, asparagus spears tend to float, leaving their tips exposed. By laying them in a shallow dish, the brine infuses more evenly. If your liquid-to-asparagus ratio brings the spears to the surface, weigh them down with a lightweight lid that fits within the dish or even just a layer or two of paper towels.
  • The primary difference in the recipes for these quick pickles and Asparagus Refrigerator Pickles is in the seasonings: Because the quick pickles spend less time in the brine, I still use a strong brine but throw in more spices to boost the flavor. Experiment with quantities, other spices—even ground ones—and fresh herbs.
  • If you have leftover quick pickles, the bonus flavor can quickly become overpowering. Just strain the brine and then pour it back over the asparagus; it will keep this way as long as fridge pickles.
  • The garlic and onion flavor will also get stronger if you leave the alliums in the brine. Eat them before storing leftover quick pickles in the refrigerator.
  • We grab quick pickles straight from the bowl of brine at home, but there will be fewer vinegar drips if you transfer the vegetables to a dry tray before serving. To turn it into an antipasti party plate, add various other homemade pickles, or offset its bite with the sweetness of Roasted Garlic, the saltiness of Dry-Salted Feta, and the crunch of Baked Chickpea Snacks.

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