Pickling Party

by | May 13, 2013 | Canning / Pickling, Family Traditions

It’s asparagus season here in Northern California, which means it’s time to pickle! Plus, I just finished off the final jar of asparagus from last year. Five of us gathered together for the task that lay ahead, we find that there’s strength in numbers! We were discussing our grandmothers who we had all helped out in the kitchen when we were young; they did their canning and pickling all by themselves, jars and jars of fruits and vegetables, well into their 70’s and 80’s. They were tough cookies. We find that it’s more fun and motivating to pickle together, and doesn’t take as long to clean up! Last year we pickled three lugs of asparagus, this year we moved up to four, you can find our asparagus recipe in our pickling blog from last year.

I’m a one click shopper with Amazon, which can be rather dangerous. In preparation for the pickling party, I got a bit carried away with new canning books. It doesn’t help that my mother was a librarian, books seem to be in our genes! I ordered a variety to peruse in advance of the big day, and pulled a couple of recipes to use this year… Canning for a New GenerationThe Art of FermentationPut ’em Up!Pickled, and Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.

If you haven’t canned before, it’s get to do some research in advance. Ball has a great website to get you started, www.freshpreserving.com, or any of the books listed above will give you the details on preparing the jars, lids, and all of the equipment you will need.

This year we planned in advance to make some giardiniera, last year we just threw it together with the vegetables we found in my fridge and freezer, using leftover spices from the asparagus. I also love pickled beets, so I picked up a couple dozen beets to experiment with. My sister and cousin despise beets, say they smell like dirt, it’s one of those love ‘em or hate ‘em vegetables. We also tested out putting asparagus in the jars raw compared to blanching the asparagus in advance, possibly saving us some time. We won’t be able to give you the taste results for at least 6 weeks, so stay tuned!


  • 2 pounds beets
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves

Prep the beets by boiling or roasting them until nearly tender. Slice into ¼-inch slices (I used a mandolin).

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a medium nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then remove from the heat.

Pack the beets into 3 clean, hot pint jars, arranging them snugly but with enough room for brine to circulate. Divide the cumin seed and cloves among the jars. Pour the hot brine over the beets to cover by ½ inch. Leave ½ inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.

Use the boiling-water method. Process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Recipe came from Put ‘em up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton


We adapted this recipe from Paula’s mother’s recipe, and a recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. You can use a variety of whatever vegetables your family prefers.


NOTE: The amount of spices listed below go Into EACH quart sized jar:

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped or more (we used more because we love garlic!)
  • ½ bay leaf
  • 6 whole black peppercorns


  • Small cauliflower florets
  • Pearl onions
  • Carrots, cleaned or peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
  • Tri-color bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • Small Brussel sprouts
  • String beans
  • Artichoke hearts, halved or quartered

Pickling Brine

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
  • Prepare canner, jars and lids.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt. We chose to put the spice in the jars as we do with the asparagus, because last year we just threw a bunch of vegetables in the extra jars the we had prepped for the asparagus and it turned out great. The Ball recipe calls for a spice bag to go in the brine.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add vegetables and return to a boil. Pack vegetables into hot jars within a generous ½ inch of top of jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover vegetables, leaving ½ headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry, Lauren Devine

 Nancy, Merry, Paula, Kim & Wendy, the Pickling Princesses