In an (Asparagus) Pickle
Learning pickling has been my favorite part of the 8-week master food preservation program I’m doing through Oregon State’s extension office. Asparagus are now officially my favorite vegetable to pickle. Make some while the elusive green stalks are still in season this fleeting spring. I made a batch at home this week with local asparagus from Sunbow Farm. Boiling-water canning the pickles for 10 minutes was no problem: all the jars popped, sealed shut, upon removal. But I could have used a few extra hands of help like I’ve gone accustomed to having in our class.
Just about everyone seems interested in canning these days, whether motivated to save money, preserve local produce or simply learn an ancient food art. The New York Times had a big canning feature last week, focusing on Eugenia Bone, author of the new cookbook, Well Preserved. Then NPR features Preserved on its list of the “10 Best Summer Cookbooks.” I’ve never gotten more Facebook comments then when I posted pickling photos from my preservation class. It’s a sign of the times. Now my cousin and I lament the fact my grandmother never taught us to make her curry pickles. But as a kid, I never thought making her pickles or famous raspberry jam would interest me. Yet, here I am.
I tried to recreate the Oregon-made dilly asparagus Pretty Pickles by adding dill seed to my recipe. I also like extra garlic, but I ran out. Add a whole cayenne pepper for spice and colorful effect, if you like. Experiment with any spices you like but don’t mess with the instructions on heating the brine and water-bath processing times. I like that Eugenia Bone’s recipe has that extra garlic. But I used the simple one from my OSU Extension “Pickling Vegetables” booklet (see page 15 for asparagus). What’s your favorite food to pickle?
I will not be pickling eggs, as our teacher did in class. But their pink pickled beet-enhanced color did contrast nicely with the yolks.