Here’s an asparagus (and bean) pickling tip: after pickling, the spears will look all shriveled for a few weeks. I thought I’d done something wrong, but when the pickles were ready after a few months, they looked normal again. SO, don’t worry- try them, they’ll be great!
- 10-12 lbs. asparagus
- 7 large cloves garlic, cut in half
- 5 cups water
- 5 cups vinegar
- 5 TB. canning/pickling salt
- Optional additions per jar:
- ½ tsp. whole peppercorns
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Clean 7 pint or 12-oz jars, along with the lids and rings well with soap and hot water. Keep the clean jars warm by placing into warm canner water, filled with hottest tap water in the sink, or in a 200 degree oven upside down on a towel-lined tray (the point is to keep them warm until you need to fill them before water-bath canning). **see notes below for refrigerator pickling**
- Prepare asparagus: Put one spear in a jar and cut it to ½" below the jar top, then use that as a measure for cutting the remainder of the asparagus. Have all the asparagus cut before proceeding.
- Fill a water-bath canner ½ to ¾ full of water and bring to a low boil.
- Add water, vinegar, canning salt and sugar to a large, non-reactive pot. Stir well and bring to a slow boil.
- Pack the jars: place a garlic clove and the optional peppercorns and red pepper flakes in the bottom of each jar and fill with asparagus spears point-side down. Pack them in tight, as they'll shrink when heated.
- Fill the jars, one at a time, with the hot vinegar mixture, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a non-metal spatula, replace any brine as needed to keep headspace, and wipe rim with a damp towel.
- Attach lid and ring, tightening to just fingertip tight.
- Lower each jar as you fill it into the canner (or set them on a rack resting on the canner) using a jar lifter. Continue filling each jar and placing them in the canner until done.
- Bring the canner to a rolling boil over high heat. Set a timer for 10 minutes and adjust the heat so the canner continues at a soft boil.
- When the timer goes off, turn off the burner and remove the lid. Use the jar lifter to remove each jar and set on a towel-lined surface as gently as possible. Leave to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check lids and seals, store any unsealed jars in the fridge and store the rest, without the rings, in a cool, dark, place. The jars are best used within a year (but we've eaten 2-year-old jars and they've been fine).
You can fill the brine all the way to the top, since headspace doesn't matter.
Attach lids as outlined, let sit on the counter for a bit until cooled and place in the refrigerator for storage.
Got leftover vinegar mixture?
Now, what do you do if you have any leftover brine mixture? I’ve never yet made a batch of pickles where it was just right- and the time I made too little I decided I’d always prefer to have too much!
Here are 3 options to deal with unused pickling brine:
- Add it to a quart-sized jar (or smaller if you have only a bit) and put it in the refrigerator to wait for the next pickling day. Just reheat it with the new brine.
- You can also simply add vegetables right to the mixture in the jar over the space of a few weeks and let it sit in the fridge for a month or so before eating. I usually add a clove of garlic when I do this – it’s a great way to use up bits and pieces of vegetables.
- Use it as the vinegar base for homemade vinaigrette.
Whatever you do, don’t throw it out – but I bet you knew I’d say that!
Looking for more easy preserving tutorials and recipes?
- Click here for a list of more preserving recipes, plus tips and resources
- Go here to see all AOC’s preserving recipes in a visual index.
Note: this article was originally published in the first year of the blog, 2009, and has been updated with larger photos, new formatting and printable recipe. Enjoy!
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on them you help support AOC at no extra cost to you – thanks so much! Plus you can trust I’ll only share what I love. (You can always read our entire disclosure page here.)