Back in June when asparagus was in season locally, I put up a batch in tall 12-ounce jars. Like the carrots destined for the February Can Jam, asparagus is a low-acid vegetable and therefore requires the addition of an acid such as vinegar in order to be safe for water bath canning. I got the recipe from Erica Bone’s excellent book, Well-Preserved. The book is great for several reasons: it’s well designed graphically, which makes it pleasant to use; the techniques and recipes are well researched and clearly explained, which makes the food safer; and best of all, it provides suggestions for using the canned ingredients. Plus, I like her idea of small batches. Three or four jars of pickled asparagus are as much as we can absorb in a year, though now that I’ve successfully tried this, I could make some for gifts next year.
The pickling base for the asparagus was composed of 2 ¼ cups each of water and 5% acidity white or white wine vinegar plus ¼ cup of pickling salt. I added garlic, dill seed and hot pepper flakes, but spices like allspice, and the seeds of cumin and coriander are also recommended. It’s a bit salty for my taste but the tang was a good counterpoint to a full-flavored whitefish. It probably would be good with chicken too, or potatoes, or eggs. I realize that salt is part of the preserving process but I wonder whether it could be cut back. More research required.