Reprinted with permission from The Feast Nearby: Essays & Recipes by Robin Mather, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. The following excerpt can be found on Page 36.
These crunchy pickles are good in their own right on a dark winter night; they also make terrific "stirrers" for Bloody Marys, if that cocktail happens to be on your agenda. They are not powerfully puckery, as some pickles can be. Try them tucked into a winter sandwich for an unexpected crisp contrast in texture. Trimming the asparagus to fit into the jars is the time-consuming part. Save the trimmings! I like to use wide-mouth canning jars for this. MAKES 4 PINT JARS
• 3 pounds fresh asparagus, tough ends removed
• 2 cups white wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon pickling salt
• 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
• 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
• 4 (1/2-inch by 3-inch) strips lemon zest
1. Prepare the jars for canning; they do not have to be sterilized. Prepare a boiling water bath for canning.
2. Wash the asparagus and trim each spear to a 4 1/4-inch length, or long enough to fit into a wide-mouthed pint jar, leaving 3/4 inch headspace.
3. Combine the wine vinegar, white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil.
4. Fill the hot jars with asparagus, tips down. Tuck the tarragon, garlic, and lemon zest among the spears in each jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the asparagus spears to within 1/2 inch of the jar rim. Seal. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. Store in a cool, dry place. The pickles will keep for up to 1 year.
Click here for the main article, From Our Bookshelf: Welcome Spring with Herbaceous Asparagus.