Fermented asparagus pickles are a tasty snack straight from the jar. They also make a delicious substitute for a dill pickle spear on the side of a sandwich.
Fermenting the stalks is a great way to extend the harvest. And they are a surprisingly scrumptious addition to a relish platter as well.
Yield: 1 quart jar
- 1.5 lb. asparagus, uniform in size if possible (the thicker the stalk, the tougher it will be)
- 2 sprigs fresh dill
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 slices of lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt dissolved in 2 cups of water
Preparing Fermented Asparagus Pickles
Clean the asparagus spears thoroughly and trim the woody tough ends off. They should fit into a quart jar, with about 1.5 inches of headspace (from top of asparagus spears to the rim of the jar).
Add the dill and garlic to the bottom of the jar and gently pack the jar with asparagus spears. Fit them in snugly. It helps to hold the jar horizontally while filling so you can easily stack the spears in.
Tuck the bay leaf and lemon slices (optional) in the side of the jar. Be mindful not to bruise, crush or break the spears while filling the jar.
Once the jar is filled, mix up the brine. Pour the brine over the asparagus spears until they are completely submerged by at least 1/4 inch of brine. If you have a small fermentation jar weight, add it to the jar to hold down the asparagus under the brine.
Remove any small pieces of food that float up to the top of the brine. Produce above the brine will increase the risk of the ferment spoiling. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean dampened towel. Add the Mason jar canning lid and tightly screw on the ring.
This is a 7-to-10-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60-75°F (15-23°C) and keep out of direct sunlight.
Check on the ferment daily to make sure the brine is covering all the produce. If the produce has floated above the brine level, use a clean utensil to push it back below the brine.
Burp the jar daily. Unscrew the lid briefly and tighten it back on to allow any built-up gas to release (and avoid possible jar breakage or the ferment from overflowing).
After one week of fermentation, taste test an asparagus spear and see if it has the garlicky, dilly flavor that it should have once fermented. If it tastes too much like asparagus in the raw form, replace the lid and ring and allow it to ferment another few days and taste test again.
Once the ferment has reached your ideal flavor, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.
Fermentation does not stop once the ferment is transferred to the refrigerator. However it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture will continue to change, so this ferment is best enjoyed within six months.
If you do not have a glass jar weight, you can improvise by using an easily removable small food-grade glass dish that fits inside the jar. Or, if you have a smaller glass canning jar that can fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting with, you can use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.
If you are unsure if your water is safe for fermentation, you can boil it. Allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the salt to make your brine.
You may use fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt if you prefer. Simply adjust the recipe to 1 1/4 tbsp. fine sea salt.
This recipe has been adapted from WECK Home Preserving with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.