Some things I’ve forgotten about Wisconsin while I lived in Wyoming:
- Rain is a real thing, and sometimes it can even rain for an entire day here.
- Ticks are prolific.
- Lawnmowers are a tool used more than twice per summer, and it is not primarily used to mow weeds.
- Crops grow. A lot.
We were fortunate to have a pretty decent-sized asparagus bed established when we moved in (and I even found a second while mowing the jungle behind our main yard–score!) and the hub-dubs has been harvesting an average of one pound/day. The plus side of this is that I am much better at cooking a vegetable for each meal. The downside is that it’s a lot of asparagus. A. Lot. There’s one more upside to having a lot of asparagus though: you can pickle it. There are many crops that taste great pickled: cucumbers (duh), beans (waiting patiently to make my first batch of dilly beans), and, coincidentally, asparagus. This recipe is a somewhat spicy version, but it’s pretty amazeballs. If you don’t like spice, you should not be eating pickles, and you can omit the jalapeno and/or the mustard.
Bill Dill. Here’s what you need (makes 4 pints):
Wide-mouth quart jars, sterilized
2 c. water
2/3 c. white distilled vinegar
2.5 T. sugar
3 t. dried dill (if you have fresh dill springs, throw one in each jar. Yum-o.)
1 onion, sliced
1/4 c. canning salt (do not use regular salt)
1 jalapeno, sliced 4 cloves garlic
1 t. ground mustard
1 T. peppercorns
Here’s a good tip about the asparagus: the vinegar softens it up a bit, so you can use the woody stuff that you maybe missed for a couple days. Woot. Ok, so here’s what you do to get you on the path to sweet pickled goodness: Sterilize your jars and lids first. You can check out a lot of websites for how to sterilize your junk, but the basic rules are: boil everything, only use clean rags, and don’t touch the tops.
Add everything except the asparagus, garlic, and fresh dill (if you are using any) to a large pot and boil over medium-low heat until the sugar and salt are both dissolved.
Meanwhile, cut your asparagus to length–about the point where the screw part of the jar starts (I think that’s a little over an inch of headspace).
Throw in a pot of boiling water for like 2 minutes to blanch it. Then, lay the jars on their sides and start packing in the asparagus. You want to pack it in pretty tight.
Then, stand the jars up and add the garlic. Then, quickly pour in the brine and make sure some jalapenos and onions make it into each jar (two more foods that are delightful when pickled). A canning funnel makes this step much easier.
The heat from the brine is what helps create a seal on the jar, so don’t dilly-dally. Wipe any spilled brine off the rim of the jar with a clean rage soaked in hot hot hot water (remember, boil everything). Place in an undisturbed area for about 2 weeks. You could eat after a week, but it’s worth the extra week for better flavor. Then, transfer your jars to your refrigerator. It’s safe to store these pickles in your fridge for 2-3 months so you can enjoy them for quite awhile!