How to Pickle Wild Asparagus Recipe
Around here, spring means turkey hunting, fishing, and gathering nature's bounty. Dandelions, mushrooms, ramps, wild onions and others regularly end up on our dinner table.
Look for it around old homeplaces, orchards, or along fencerows and field edges. Asparagus needs lots of sun to grow, so search in open locations. To find wild asparagus, look for dried stalks from the previous year to tip you off to fresh shoots sprouting at their base. The leftover stalks can reach heights of up to 6 feet, making them easier to spot in the tall grass. Since it isn't cultivated, the asparagus you find growing in these areas is likely to fall into a wide range of sizes. Don't worry, go ahead and pick them all. Grill, sauté or roast the smaller stalks you find and make pickles from the larger specimens. Once I find a good stand, I'll mark it to make it easier to locate over following springs. I like to harvest from a patch once or twice each spring, then allow the stalks to grow the remainder of the season and regenerate the root system.
These quick pickles are easy to make and don't require any special canning equipment. If you can peel garlic and boil water, you can make these pickles.
2 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed to fit your jars
1½ cups water
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice
5 tablespoons sugar
Red pepper flakes
Whole mustard seed
12 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
4 cleaned and sterilized pint jars, with lids
Begin by cutting the asparagus to fit your jar length. You want the asparagus pieces roughly ½ inch shorter than your jar height.
Into each jar, drop 3 to 4 lightly crushed garlic cloves (if you don't care for garlicky pickles, cut back to 1 clover per jar), 6 to 8 black peppercorns, ½ tablespoon of pickling spice and a pinch each of red pepper flakes and mustard seeds. Pack the blanched asparagus into the jars, leaving them just loose enough to allow the pickling liquid to contact the entire surface area.
Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jars to fully immerse the asparagus. Screw on the lid and allow the jars to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours before eating the asparagus. Thinner stalks will be ready sooner than the thicker stalks. The pickled asparagus will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.