The other day, D and I were supposed to go to a potluck. We had just gotten back from the store ready to make au gratin potatoes, when we got word the potluck was cancelled. I had all this pent up cooking energy. What to do?
Pickle something, of course! I had bought a pound of asparagus from the store, an impulse item – they look so beautiful right now! With ingredients on hand I was able to complete this in about a half hour.
One of the frustrating things about pickles is that you can’t really taste test them right away, because the flavors change as they ferment. I am the kind of cook who throws things in the pot without measuring, and I adjust flavors constantly. Pickling is like baking, in that you don’t know how it’ll taste until it’s totally done and you can’t fix it anymore. This recipe is new to me, so we’ll see how it goes. This is also partly why I have only done refrigerator pickles so far – I haven’t yet found the perfect recipe.
I took the core of this recipe from pickyourown.org, my favorite site for basic pickle and jam recipes. Here’s how I made them:
1 – 2 pounds asparagus; washed and trimmed to fit the jar. (You snap off the bottom of the stem with your hands, right? Just hold the stem in both hands, towards the bottom, and bend until it snaps. The stem will break at the point where the tough flesh meets the tender flesh, leaving you with none of the chewy bits. You can then trim the ends so they are tidy, if that’s what you’re into.)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 driedchile de arbol pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
2 stems fresh dill (the original recipe called for dill seeds, which I didn’t have on hand)
1 c white vinegar
1 c water
1 Tbsp salt (pickling or kosher, not table salt)
Place the garlic, asparagus, red pepper, and dill in jar (I use jars with the clamp lids for refrigerator pickles like these).
Bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Pour immediately into jar over vegetables.
Close the lid while still warm, and put the jar in a cupboard to keep it in a dark cool place. After 3 days put the jar in the fridge. They should keep up to a month in the fridge, which is perfect because the Preservation Society is coming over in 2 weeks and they can help with ideas on the recipe.
These turned out nice. I will say that the asparagus flavor is a little lost amidst the dill and vinegar – I might use less dill next time, or use dill seeds as recommended. They weren’t spicy at all, to me. And the white vinegar has a harsh flavor to me; I might try a cider vinegar next time. But the texture is perfect, crunchy and bright. Overall, I’d say they are a success, with a few ideas for improvement next time!
Edit: D had these with pan-fried trout yesterday, and said it was a great combo.