I know I’ve mentioned this before on these pages, but it bears repeating at this wonderful time of year:
I could eat asparagus every single day of my life!
It’s my favorite vegetable—pretty, crunchy, sweet, and versatile. I’m always trying to think up new ways to use it.
I love dill refrigerator pickles made with cucumber so a few days ago I decided to try something similar with a bunch of fresh asparagus I found at a farm stand.
My mother, whose tastes become sweeter and sweeter as she grows older, found my pickles a little tart. I thought they were refreshing.
My only complaint was that they could have been crisper. They had more or less the consistency of cooked asparagus—cooked al dente, but cooked nevertheless.
Next time I’ll probably try just pouring warm brine over them instead of pre-cooking them. (I’ll let you know how this turns out!)
Meanwhile, I recommend them as they are. After a few days the vinegar turns the asparagus buds a gentle and pleasing pink.
1 pound fresh, local asparagus spears
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pinch sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 generous branch dill
a few whole peppercorns
Clean and sterilize a pint jar. (A wide-mouth jar is best as it is easiest to stuff.)
Snap the asparagus spears where they break naturally. Discard the part of the spear that has fallen below the break.
Combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and bring them to a boil. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
Wash the spears, and trim them so that they will fit into your jar. Save the extra bits of asparagus for salad, pasta, or stir-fry dishes.
Immerse the spears in boiling water. Return the water to a full boil and boil for1 minute. Rinse immediately and completely in very cold water to stop the spears from cooking further and drain them.
When the vinegar mixture is cool place the garlic, dill, pepper, and asparagus spears in the sterilized jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over them.
You should have about the right amount of liquid. If you need a little more, pour a little tap water into the jar to fill it to the top; then cover and gently shake the mixture.
If you don’t need to add water, just cover the jar. Refrigerate the pickles for 3 to 4 days before eating. Makes 1 pint.