Freezing ~ Drying ~ Pickling
Select the most tender and youngest asparagus spears. The spears should be firm, bright green with tightly wrapped tips. Check the cut ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled or dried.
Wash the asparagus spears thoroughly, then sort into sizes. Size Sorting is important as the blanching time varies dependent on the asparagus spears thickness.
Thin stalks are not any younger than thicker ones, the thick ones are usually softer and more juicier.
Trim stalks by removing any excess scales with a sharp knife.
Cut into uniform lengths that will fit into your freezer containers. If you plan on packing the spears in freezer bags uncut - you can skip this step.
Blanch small spears 1 1/2 minutes. - Medium spears 2 minutes - Large spears 3 minutes.
Remove them from the heat and plunge them immediately into very cold water to stop them form cooking any further. This is important as heated spears can easily change to mush even when they are not in the hot water they continue to cook from accumulated heat.
Asparagus spears that are mushy will not store well and loose much of their taste and appeal.
Drain off the water and any excess moisture.
Pack your asparagus spears into plastic freezer containers, be they vacuum bags or boxes such as Tupperware. Be sure to label the asparagus before placing in the freezer.
Choosing spears for drying is the same as choosing spears for freezing. Select the tenderest and youngest asparagus spears. Spears that are firm, bright green with tightly wrapped tips. Check the cut ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled or dried.
Cut off hard bottom end and slice the spears into approximately one inch pieces. Thick stalks should be sliced lengthwise to ensure uniform drying.
Steam blanch them for slightly under 5 minutes, no more or you'll end up with mush.
If you do not have a vegetable steamer you can blanch them in boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes and then immerse them in very cold water- same process as freezing.
Drain and dry well, then spread the stalks evenly on dehydrator trays. Once fully dried they loose about 60 - 70% of their mass and can be stored in jars of bags till you are ready to use them. Dried asparagus is used in soups and casseroles. It adds an asparagus flavor to many dishes while not adding a lot of bulk. It is more of an asparagus spice than a vegetable at this point. I like to crumble mine before adding to some dishes.
Pickling of Asparagus, also known as lacto fermentation is another method of preserving. asparagus. The process of selecting the right spears is the same as for drying or freezing.
After that the process varies from recipe to recipe - the following are some links to pickled asparagus recipes that I've tried over the years.
Directions for Making Canned Pickled Asparagus
10 pounds fresh asparagus
6 large garlic cloves
6 small hot peppers
3 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt (NOT table salt)
4-1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
4-1/2 cups water
Full Recipe at - pickyourown.org
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