Recipe by Leda Meredith at thespruce.com; adjustments made for Intervale Food Hub members
What You'll Need
2 pounds asparagus spears
1 pint water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other non-iodized salt
1 tablespoon sugar OR 2 teaspoons honey
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2-4 grape leaves (optional--tannins in the leaves help keep pickles crisp)
2 dill flower heads OR 2 sprigs fresh dill leaves OR 1 teaspoon dried dillweed
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 quart-sized or 2 pint-sized canning (mason) jars
How to Make It
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
While you are waiting for the water to come to a boil, wash and trim the asparagus. Trim it by holding each spear near either end and bending it gently. It will snap at exactly the borderline between the tougher bottom end and the more tender tip end. Save the bottom ends for making asparagus soup. You'll be using the more tender part of each spear for these pickles.
Once the pot of water is at a full rolling boil, drop all of the asparagus in and leave it in for only 15 seconds. Drain the asparagus in a colander and immediately transfer it to the bowl of ice water.
Bring the pint of water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil, stirring once or twice to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let the brine cool slightly while you load the quart jar (or 2 pint jars).
Place the garlic cloves and one of the grape leaves, if using, into the bottom of a clean glass quart jar or a couple of pint-sized jars. Note that because these are refrigerator pickles that will not be canned, you do not need to use special canning jars or lids. You also do not need to sterilize the jars.
Put the jar on its side and start loading in the asparagus spears, adding the remaining spices and herbs as you do so. Note that if you alternate tip end up with thicker end up, you will be able to pack more asparagus spears into the jar. Be sure to pack the spears in tightly so that they will not float up out of the brine.
Pour the cooled brine into the jar(s) over the other ingredients, being sure to completely cover the asparagus with the liquid. Secure lid(s), and place in the refrigerator. The tips of the asparagus spears may take on a pink hue because of the vinegar - this is completely safe, and even attractive in the finished product.
The pickles will be ready to eat in 3 days, much better if you wait a week, and even better if you can wait 2 weeks before sampling. They will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months but will start to lose their texture after that.
The relatively low ratio of vinegar to water in this recipe is part of what gives these pickles their bright, not overly pungent taste. Keep in mind, though, that this is less vinegar than you would need to make canned pickles for safely storing at room temperature. Keep these in the fridge.