As you may have noticed, we’re big pickling people over here in the test kitchen. We’ve fermented everything from grapes to cherry tomatoes — and our pickled red onions make an appearance at pretty much every meal. Now we’re back aboard the pickling train (not that we ever really hopped off it), and bringing some asparagus spears along for the ride.
For the brine, we used a simple, classic combination of water, white wine vinegar, sugar, and salt — and, of course, a plethora of aromatics. There’s serrano pepper, garlic, fresh dill, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and white onion, so the asparagus spears take on some peppery, punchy notes, and a wee bit of heat.
Because of its thick, fibrous texture, asparagus holds onto a lot of its crunch during the pickling process — which we absolutely love — but it also takes a little longer to ferment than other pickle-ables. You can certainly pop open the jar after 24 hours (which we admittedly have done more than once out of pure impatience), and the asparagus will be slightly sweet, with the onion and mustard seed at the flavor helm. But let the jar sit a week, and all those aromatics will intensify. Think: more heat, less sweet.
Pickled asparagus makes a fantastic snack, and a great addition to a charcuterie board. But we also love them scattered on salads, alongside a hard-boiled egg and toast for breakfast, or with a burger — specifically, our salmon burger.
Yield: 1 quart
1 bunch asparagus
½ small white onion, julienned
2 serrano peppers, stems removed, sliced lengthwise
2 garlic cloves
4 sprigs Gelson’s organic fresh dill
1 cup water
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp Gelson’s black peppercorns
Special equipment: 1-quart canning jar
Cut the bottoms off the asparagus, so they’ll fit upright in a 1-quart jar — leaving at least ½” below the lid.
Place the asparagus spears in the jar with the tips up. Pack the white onions, serrano peppers, garlic, and dill in the jar so they are distributed evenly.
In a small pot, combine the water, white wine vinegar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, mustard seeds, and black peppercorns, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Carefully pour the mixture over the vegetables and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place the lid on the jar, but do not tighten it. Transfer the jar to the refrigerator and allow the pickles and liquid to cool completely before tightening the lid.
Let the pickles sit for 24 hours before eating, or up to 1 week for a more robust flavor.
Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.