Pickled asparagus is your answer to a springtime abundance. Don’t let all those gorgeous spears go to waste. Allspice, coriander, peppercorn, and mustard seed take those stalks from green to gorgeous.
At harvest time, when there’s too much of a good thing, there’s a simple solution to avoid waste—pickle it! Here’s a great way to preserve all those wonderful bundles of asparagus when they appear en masse at the farmers’ market.–Lynn Crawford
WHEN IS PICKLED ASPARAGUS BEST?
So you’ve just put up your entire springtime harvest of gorgeous, springtime stalks and you need to know how long they’ll last. We recommend that you cool your asparagus-craving jets for at least 3 days (5 days is preferable). After that, it’s an asparagus free-for-all. For those jars you haven’t pillaged yet, this recipe gives you optimal pickled asparagus between day 5 and day 30. Mark your calendars accordingly, asparagus lovers.
- 2 pounds thin to medium-thick asparagus
- 8 fresh dill sprigs
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic slivered
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
- Trim the bottom of the asparagus so they fit upright in two 24-ounce (750 ml) containers or jars, with the asparagus tips at least 1/2 inch (1 cm) below the lid. Divvy the asparagus and dill between the jars.
☞TESTER TIP: If you need to use shorter jars and have to trim your asparagus significantly in order to fit, add your extra trimmings to a third jar along with carrots and fennel for an easy pickle. Note that you will need to make extra brine if you do this.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, peppercorns, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, allspice, and coriander seeds. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let stand until brine is lukewarm, about 20 minutes.
- Pour the brine over the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.
☞TESTER TIP: If you don’t have quite enough brine to cover the asparagus, you can top off each jar with up to 1/2 cup of boiled water.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I loved this recipe for pickled asparagus! I used to pickle vegetables from our garden with my Oma when I was a kid but it was an all-day process whereas this was super simple and delicious. I couldn't find the jars that the recipe called for, mine were a bit smaller but the pickled asparagus still worked out, it was just a little less asparagus needed.
Being Canadian, Caesars are a staple in my house on weekends and I usually serve it with a pickled bean or asparagus (store-bought of course) so I'm really happy that I tried this recipe as I can make it for myself in a really quick fashion. I'm going to try it with beans next time. I am new to pickling so I did find this recipe really easy to follow. I'm not sure what I would change as this is my first time pickling asparagus, however to me it tasted great!
This is a very good quickle, and helps take advantage of the all too brief asparagus season. I was truly surprised that, even just overnight, a serious flavor developed, along with retention of the crisp freshness of the asparagus. Even at the end of the season (when you find the natural break of the stems has started to move up a bit), you can have a lovely addition to your pickle plate or serve solo to really shine a light on how special asparagus are.
The brine comes together easily and has sufficiently cooled in 25-30 minutes. That gives you time to figure out what jar to use, and the ideal height to trim your veg. Since I had exactly one of those charming 24-ounce jars and it was already occupied, I used slightly wider (and larger) jars, filling one with all asparagus, and the second one I added the remaining lengths of asparagus PLUS I captured and of the trimmed pieces and included those along with some fresh carrots and fennel, so it will be an assortment for mixed pickle plates. That also means I needed to make additional brine, which is such an easy step, you can easily adjust.
We sampled the pickled asparagus the next morning, and even passed approval from himself (who can be a bit shy with regards to vinegar-based brines). If you need to make additional brine, you might reduce or omit additional garlic depending on your fondness of the stinking rose. If I had dill growing and had those beautiful dill weed heads I would use those (something my mother’s pickles always included).
These work nicely as an appetizer or on a cheeseboard, they have such a distinctive flavor. I like having the bonus of some pickled carrots, who bravely helped the second jar keep all spears vertical and the short times (that bonus between the height you need and the tough bottom you snap off) are fun as a jumble of briny nibbles.
Refrigerator pickles CAN use a 50/50 blend of vinegar and water, but I used full strength per the recipe. The jar suggested by the recipe is one I have a hard time finding, and will definitely buy more as the taller slim shape is perfect for long spears of any type.
I might thin the brine (you can safely use up to 50% water in a fridge pickle, but I probably would suggest 25% is good for this recipe, and it might extend the brine just enough if you had other than the ideal jar. A note could read “add up to half a cup of boiled water as needed to top off jar.”
These are a delight to eat and are really an easy, elegant pickle. Other than the overnight waiting, they come together quickly and with minimal effort. I had gotten a big bag of asparagus on the reduced rack at the store. This flavorful brine made them shine and quite addictive. I found myself munching more than I had intended as I assembled my Nicoise-ish salad, using these in place of green beans. They added such nice brightness and acidity to the salad (I drizzled some of the brine over the tuna and think that it would make a great vinaigrette).
The pickled asparagus stayed crisp and the dill and spices were really balanced. I found them to be a little salty, but not overly so. My husband liked the salt level. I made a half-batch in a quart jar and had to really trim the stalks down to fit, but the pieces can either be added to the jar or sautéed in another recipe. I found that I didn’t have quite enough brine to cover and ended up adding additional white wine vinegar.
These would be great as part of a charcuterie platter, a nibble with cocktails, or part of a picnic/cookout spread. I look forward to trying this brine and technique with other vegetables such as green beans and carrots.
Asparagus are definitely en masse at the farmers market right now! It's beautiful, at the peak of in season, and waiting to be eating in any and every way imaginable! We are seeing both green and purple, with the purple described as being sweeter, so I pickled both. I've never met a pickle I didn’t like, and these pickled asparagus are a great addition to the pickle repertoire.
I started in by nibbling straight from the jar, and then decided to make a little cheese board with these pickles, some olives, and a few cheeses I had additionally picked up at the farmers market. They could also be great chopped up large or small into a tossed salad, and they could be added into a grilled cheese sandwich, kind of like the tasty little gherkins that are slipped into a raclette sandwich. Because we really like spicy foods, I'm also envisioning a version made with more red pepper flakes to bring up the heat level, not for everyone I know, but certainly a viable alternative.
Originally published May 28, 2021