Canning and Preserving Asparagus
Canning and Preserving Asparagus
The preservation of the seasonally brief asparagus means one thing – asparagus eating can be enjoyed year-round, so you need never go without! Admittedly, the four different methods to preserving asparagus will not keep that fresh asparagus ‘crunch’ we all know and love, but the flavor is still there and can even be enhanced with the addition of other ingredients. The obvious addition is salt but in the case of pickling, it’s a chance to be experimental.
The four different methods to preserving asparagus will not keep that fresh asparagus ‘crunch’ we all know and love, but the flavor is still there and can be enhanced with the addition of other ingredients.
“Let it go” with frozen asparagus
If you prefer to keep your asparagus nice and firm then, if done correctly, frozen asparagus is the quickest, cleanest and easiest method. Asparagus stems can usually be added frozen, straight into many recipes that require cooked asparagus. Choose the thicker stems as they are better suited to the freezing process. The best time to buy your asparagus is when the season is peaking, the prices start to fall and bulk purchasing is appealing. You’ll still be able to get those tender asparagus spears, but at a price that will make you wonder why you hadn’t taken up the delightfully eccentric art of vegetable preservation before. To prevent discoloration and retain the texture, you will need to blanch or steam the asparagus first–I discuss this in detail over on How to cook asparagus. Frozen asparagus should keep in the freezer for up to 12 months, lasting just to the beginning of the next season when you can buy fresh again (how about that?!). Preserved asparagus means you will always have home grown, home preserved, best quality, sourced at reasonable prices asparagus in your pantry There’s a few pitfalls to avoid, of course, that one turn at the races should get you up to speed on: to avoid frozen asparagus stems getting stuck together, it’s good practice to spread out the stems on a baking sheet first and then flash-freeze for about 2 hours before transferring to a freezer bag. As an aside, like me, maybe you feel a little guilty at discarding those asparagus ends. One use for those raw remains is to freeze them until there is a need for a vegetable stock. Nothing needs to get wasted with frozen asparagus — or anything coming out of my kitchen.
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Contain your crop with canned asparagus
The process of home canning asparagus involves a pressure cooker and some knowledge of temperatures and pressures to kill off Clostridium botulinum. Asparagus is generally quite low in acidity, so there is a higher chance of botulism occurring in the jar if the right temperatures aren’t reached during cooking. The addition of temperature at pressure is used to increase the acidity and ban any nasty bacterium from the resulting canned asparagus.
With your 1 US pint / 16 oz jar (can), pressure cooker, salt and boiled water to the side, prepare about 6 (or however many you think will fit in the jar) asparagus spears by trimming the woody ends and steaming for 2-3 minutes (see How to cook asparagus) . Place the hot, steamed asparagus into the jar, tips up, leaving a little room at the top. Add salt for taste and then cover with boiled water so the spears are fully immersed. Seal with the jar lid but do not overtighten; place into the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes or whatever your cooker instructions advise. All pressure cookers behave differently particularly when above sea level and whether they’re a weighted or dial-gauge. Once the required time has been reached, turn off the cooker, let the temperature cool down and allow the pressure to return to zero before opening.
Perfectly pickled asparagus
Pickled asparagus usually involves the addition of salt or vinegar to water to kill off harmful bacteria and produce a tart lactic acid flavor. To pickle your supply of asparagus simply place 6 or so prepared and sliced raw asparagus spears tips up into a hot, sterilized 1 US pint or 16 oz-sized jar. Add about 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar to a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and sugar and bring to the boil. Once it has boiled, pour over the asparagus in the jar leaving about ¼ inch from the top and fit the lid tightly. Transfer the jar to a boiling water canner or a bath of boiling water for about 10-15 minutes before leaving to cool at room temperature.
As an alternative to basic pickled asparagus, why not throw in some other flavors to also benefit from the pickling effect. Herbs such as thyme as well as garlic and mustard seed are popular ingredients while red chilli could add a good color contrast as well as that extra spicy kick.
The totally wasted, dried asparagus
Using an electric dehydrator machine, dried or dehydrated asparagus is an ideal way to preserve your asparagus harvest and use that abundance in saucy recipes so they can be rehydrated again. Alternatively, for a quick snack why not nibble on some crunchy lightly-salted asparagus chunks? The asparagus is chopped up into 1 inch chunks before being blanched or steamed (see How to cook asparagus). This initial process helps to kill off any harmful bacteria yet retains much of the vitamins and iron within the raw asparagus. Once the stems have been blanched or steamed, the asparagus stems are evenly arranged on dehydrator trays before beginning the dehydrator process which can last up to 10 hours at around 140 fahrenheit. If you’d rather not splash out on a specialist dehydrator, simply use an oven and set it to the same low temperature and leave the oven slightly ajar to prevent any moisture build up. The asparagus is dried when it is brittle and should be left at room temperature until it has cooled down and before being transferred into an airtight and clean bag or jar for storage. Dried asparagus can last for up to 6 months if stored properly although
I have a tendency to snack on my asparagus bites – as I call them – when I’m feeling peckish. The asparagus bites recipe uses the same method for drying but at the end add a sprinkling of sea salt to the bag or jar and shake to allow the salt to spread evenly. Salt or no salt, the dried asparagus chunk sounds like a potato chip but is so much tastier.
FORQ Featured Asparagus Recipes
Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Garlic Scapes
This dish uses some of the true gems of the late spring and summer and combines them with farm fresh eggs for a dish you’ll want to make again and again.
Poached Asparagus with White Miso Beurre Blanc
This variation of the classic beurre blanc sauce pairs perfectly with quickly poached fresh asparagus.
Panzanella with Asparagus and Pecorino Romano
A twist on the traditional Tuscan version, this panzanella adds asparagus and pecorino romano to the wonderful combination of toasted bread and ripe tomato.
Millet with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Goat CheeseThis healthy dish uses a wonderful but frequently forgotten ancient grain and pairs it with lightly sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, which are then finished with goat cheese.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Sriracha-Lemon Vinaigrette and Pecorino RomanoThis cold salad is brightened by the tang of lemon and cheese and the hot, garlic flavor of Sriracha.
Beef & Asparagus Stir FryThis stir fry works really well if the asparagus and water chestnuts keep their crunch alongside the succulent beef strips.
Asparagus & Ricotta QuicheEmbrace pie crust making in this tasty asparagus quiche recipe where fresh flavors and cheesy creaminess dominate.
Asparagus in Hollandaise Sauce with Crusted SalmonCrack the ‘double emulsion’ method of making hollandaise with this surprisingly simple asparagus and salmon recipe.
Filet steak & peppered asparagus with sweet potatoGreen peppercorn and asparagus make a wonderful partnership in this indulgent steak recipe.
Thai Green Curry with Chicken & AsparagusTransform the mood in your kitchen with the fragrant aroma of Thai green curry and the fresh flavor of asparagus.
Who’s Cooking Today
I’ve sampled exotic and unusual foods on my travels, but nothing beats coming home and sharing my experiences in the kitchen and in my writing. I love the sticky leftover goo of barbecued pork ribs that my kids can’t quite polish off on their own; I yearn for the safe and homely aroma of roast chicken as I pull it from the oven; I adore the sizzle and smell of broiled bacon on a wet Sunday morning. Food will always be my friend as it is meant for sharing. You can enjoy my written and visual translation of taste at jambip.com or via the various social media channels.
More delicious asparagus recipes!
The full FORQ asparagus archive, straight from our FORQ Enthusiasts.
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