Wild and Lazy Fermentation

We Can Phickle That! – Asparagus Lactopickles to Bid Farewell to Spring

Chopped asparagus pickles

A-spare-agus yourself the pain of missing out on these pickles. (I’m awesome at puns)

I’m starting a new feature on the blog today: We Can Phickle That!  From now through the end of produce season(s), I’ll be hitting up the farmers markets in search of the best seasonal vegetables to ferment.  I’ll share my successes and favorite flavoring combinations with you on Thursdays until the produce becomes sad and sparse.  If you don’t get the reference, please watch this hilarious video clip that approximately 3,000 of my closest friends and family members have sent  me.

We’re at the sad, sad end of asparagus season here in Philly.  I think asparagus might be in my top 3 things to lactopickle (Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you consummate creator of verbs, Amanda Feifer!!!).  First of all, the smell during fermentation is unbelievable.  I keep thinking someone is cooking something very tempting, and then when I follow my nose it leads me to the jar placed, in an inconveniently distracting fashion, on my desk.  Secondly, these taste amazing.  This is one of those dishes that make you really appreciate the transformative powers of fermentation: Although they are fermented raw, to me they taste cooked upon completion.

My go-to dish for asparagus is one that I’m sure many of you eat: blanched spears topped with a poached egg and drizzled in a mustard sauce. Shkews me.  There’s saliva dripping down my chin.  Hold on a sec.

Okay, I’m back.  You can definitely serve these guys that same way (minus the blanching of the spears) for an added kick.  They also make a great garnish for  shaved asparagus salads or any other pile o’ green things, since their hue turns something between neon and Swamp Thing during fermentation.  The don’t have the beautiful bright green of blanched asparagus, but they make up for that in intense flavor.  That aforementioned mustard sauce was my inspiration for seasoning here.  I chose to keep it simple and just load them with mustard seeds and a single clove of garlic.  If I were growing tarragon this year, I might have thrown in a sprig or two of that towards the end of fermentation.

I mentioned how to serve these, but frankly we eat them plain.  I served them at my Collingswood Farmers Market Demo a couple weeks back and had some very smiley faces from people who had never tried asparagus pickles before!

 

Fermentation Demo Farmers Market

My demo at the Collingswood Farmers Market where passers-by tasted lactofermented asparagus

Again, we’re talking lactic acid fermentation here, so the key is to keep your asparagus in anaerobic conditions so the l. bacilli will thrive and eat, allowing their acid by-products to preserve your asparagus and infuse it with flavor.  I chose to cut my spears into 2-3 inch pieces, but you can choose to keep them whole (as long as you have a container tall enough) or chop them as small as you like. Full spears may take a tad longer to reach ideal acidity and small pieces may ferment a bit more quickly, but honestly I usually do not notice a drastic difference in fermentation time related to the size of the piece, unless the size difference is enormous.

Lactopickled Asparagus

makes 1 quart, easily scalable

fermentation time approximately 2 weeks at room temperature

Choose medium-thickness asparagus spears that have roughly the same circumference as one another.  I had a few of the super-skinny ones get a touch soft in my last batch.  I didn’t mind it, but they definitely lacked crisp!

If you’re new to lactopickling, please check out my Pickle FAQ before you get started!

Ingredients

  • One bunch of washed asparagus, approximately 15 spears, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 T yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole glove of garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups brine (1 T of salt disolved into 2 cups of room temperature water)

How-to

1.  (Optional) Chop your asparagus spears crosswise into 2-3 inch pieces, a slanted cut is always pretty.

2. Put your veggies and seasonings in the jar and pour brine over the top.

3. Ensure that veggies are completely submerged underneath the brine using the method of your choice.  This is one time you don’t want to grind your ghetto jar method down too hard.  I like to fill my jar carefully and then gently place my weight on top of the asparagus.  It’s no fun to crush their pretty heads.

4.   Let them sit at room temp (somewhere around 70) for 1-2 weeks, or until your desired acidity has been reached, then stick them in the fridge and enjoy them ’til they’re gone.

7 Comments

  1. Posted June 21, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Asparagus season has come & gone here, so I missed this one for this year. There’s always next year.
    I did try your rhubarb recipe though and tried them out the other day – mine turned out super garlicy. I love them.

  2. Amanda
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    That’s so great, Becky! Glad they turned out! I got another gallon of them made before they ran out of rhubarb and I’m so glad I did! Sorry about the asparagus.
    I got my last bunch of asparagus on Wednesday. Some day I will grow my own and then it’ll be barrels (literally) of asparagus pickles.

  3. Posted June 22, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Amanda,
    I am super excited about your pickle of the week idea! I will gladly follow along and continue to try your recommendations. Since we’re talking about love for pickled asparagus, here’s how I eat mine. http://imgur.com/2MtIUxk
    Thank you for sharing so many great ideas.

  4. Amanda
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Awww, thanks, Cindy! I’m pretty excited about it too. We try to eat seasonally (which gets tricky in the winter sometimes) but I’m really excited about featuring some warm season favorites! Your asparagus looks amazing. I think I could make some asparagus pickle converts serving them like that!

  5. Marci
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    So after putting the brine in, do I put a lid and jar ring on and then let it sit.

  6. Amanda
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marci,

    Click the link in number 3 of the instructions. That will lead you to some options for submerging your veggies. The key for lactic acid fermentation is always going to be keeping them completely submerged, so you’ll have to find the way that works best for you. Some favorites include sticking a jar filled with water inside your pickling jar, adding a plastic ziplock back filled with brine, adding a boiled stone or other small weight. Whatever method works best for you will be fine.

    The key is the temperature and the anaerobic (airless) conditions. The submersion is needed because it provides a liquid barrier that air does not pass through. There are also jars that you can purchase that have an airlock, or you can use a jar with a gasket (you still need to weight the veggies down inside the jar). I think the post that is linked to in the recipe will help! Let me know if it doesn’t!

  7. Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if adding grape leafs to the fermentation will keep them a bit crispy. Like fermenting pickles. I have no idea just tossing that out there.

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  1. [...] Lacto-fermented asparagus. Grab a couple bundles before it’s out of season entirely! [...]

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