March is my least favorite month in Maine with its many windy days, dirt tracked into my house, and the trees’ dull brownness before budding. The snow melts to disclose the very many winter scars, such as litter, broken tree limbs, and random piles of street sand. Yet, it’s also a month where tiny signs of warmer and brighter days pop up here and there with the promise of a robust springtime when the sky is the bluest of blues.

Last week two signs of brighter and warmer days were evident. The first were the purple, white, and golden yellow crocus popping up through the still cold earth. They are always the first to the party! In a few weeks, daffodils will join them, and then, fashionably late as always, elegant grape hyacinth.

The second sign was the beginning of canning season! I canned five liters of fresh pickled asparagus in one-liter Weck jars.  The tall cylinder shape is perfect. Even at that, I needed to trim off more from the bottom of the stems to make them fit. I stir fry the end bits with pressed garlic, onions, mushrooms, and crème Fraiche and serve them over pasta. Waste not, want not!

The process of making pickled asparagus is super easy. The one week waiting time to eat the results is the most challenging part! I prefer the look of stalks in the jars, but each stalk can be chopped up into two-inch spears and then packed in jars.

Pickled Garlic Asparagus

4 -1-liter Weck jars

5 lbs. asparagus

6 cups Organic Braggs Cider Vinegar

6 cups filtered water

¼ cup Kosher pickling or Himalayan salt

12 minced garlic cloves (2 for each jar)

2 ½ teas red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare the asparagus by first washing gently, then trim the tough ends from each stalk. If my knife resists cutting, I know I need to trim more. Now cut the asparagus to fit the jars, packing them in as tightly as you can, but not bending or breaking the tips. Add two minced garlic cloves and ¼ teas red pepper flakes to each jar. To make the brine, place the vinegar, water, and salt into a pot and bring to a boil. Fill each jar with the brine, leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Place the lids on the jars. Process the jars in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes. Lift the jars out of the canner, place them on a heavy towel on the counter with another towel wrapped around them. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. For best results, wait at least a week before eating to ensure a nice pickled flavor.

The amount of brine needed will vary slightly based on how tightly the asparagus packs in the jars. You can add about a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper instead of the red pepper flakes, but I like red bits accenting the green asparagus.

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