Pickling Asparagus

by | Jun 13, 2012 | Canning / Pickling, Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

Pickled asparagus

During May a small group of friends and relatives reserved a Saturday to pickle asparagus. My sister Nancy’s sister-in-law bought three cases of asparagus from Victoria Island Farms near Stockton and shared her knowledge and family recipe with us.

The cases of asparagus to be canned

We canned the asparagus at Nancy’s house in the Livermore Hills. The first lesson we learned that day was to make sure you read the recipe correctly during the planning stages.  Apparently, a person who will remain nameless, saw the amount of spices that goes into one jar and thought that was the amount for one batch. Lesson number two was to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand the day before you start the canning process–this is especially important when you have a 40+ minute round trip to drive into town to the grocery store. I ended up having to drive into town to purchase more of the spices when we were well into the canning process. During my trip into town and back up to the hills I got stuck behind mini vans driving 20 to 25 mph in a 50 mph zone, which made my trip longer and excruciating.

Nancy’s backyard

The third lesson learned on asparagus canning day was before you make that trip into town, be sure you know exactly what you are supposed to purchase. I had a list that said “dill” on it. I grabbed dill weed and the recipe called for dill seed.  So we improvised and used the dill weed. The pickled asparagus turned out just fine. Excellent in fact. Every time I have served the pickled asparagus, I have received a lot of compliments about how great it is and how we could sell it and make millions of $$. 

Spices needed for pickling asparagus: mustard seed, dill SEED (not weed!), crushed peppers, garlic, bay leaves, salt

We packed the asparagus so tightly in the jars that we had a few jars prepared with spices and extra brine left over.  Nancy decided to try to make giardiniera (pickled vegetables) with the leftovers. She raided the veggie drawer in her refrigerator and her freezer for fresh and frozen veggies and found enough to put up 4 or 5 quart jars. Just like the asparagus, we blanched ’em, iced ’em, and drained ’em. I’ve not yet tried my jar of giardiniera, but Nancy said the veggies turned out great. 

The giardiniera we made with extra jars and brine

We ended up making 48 quarts of pickled asparagus out of the three cases of asparagus.  Below is the recipe we used. Under the recipe are pictures that show the steps taken to pickle the asparagus. Note that the recipe includes crushed red pepper and garlic, which gives the pickled asparagus a bit of a zip. It’s not spicy hot, but has some zip. Some people just don’t like zip, so you might want to keep this in mind if you do make this recipe and when serving the finished product.

Pickled Asparagus


Fresh asparagus


NOTE: The amount of spices listed below go Into EACH pint sized jar (double measurements for quart jars):

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon dill seed

1 clove garlic or more (we used more because we love garlic!)

1/4 bay leaf


5 cups white vinegar

5 cups water

1/2 cup salt


Using the appropriate method for canning, wash and sterilize jars and lids.

Cut the asparagus* to the appropriate length for the size of jar you are using.  Blanch asparagus 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and then plunge the asparagus into an ice water bath. When cool, remove from the ice water and drain. Place the asparagus on trays until you are ready to pack them into jars.

Start the water bath and brine. Place the spices in the bottom of the jars and then tightly pack the asparagus in the jars. Bring the brine to a boil. Pour boiling hot brine into jars and then seal the jars. Process jars for 10 minutes in the water bath.

Allow the asparagus to sit at least a couple of weeks before eating. 


*TIP:  You might want to consider saving the bottoms you cut off to use in soups during the winter.  To prepare the bottoms for freezing, blanch, drain, and put them into freezer bags. Store them in the freezer until ready to use.  

Cut the bottoms off of the asparagus

Blanch the asparagus

Put the asparagus in an ice bath

Drain the asparagus

Measure the ingredients into the canning jars

Tightly pack the asparagus in the jars

Bring the brine and the water to process the asparagus in to a boil

The jars tightly packed with asparagus

Pour the brine into the jars packed with asparagus

Removing the jar lids from the sterilizing bath

Place the lided jars into boiling water to process

Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water

Remove jars from processing pot

Allow jars to cool and lids to seal

We all need some zip in our lives.