Wednesday, May 30, 2007 FOOD


Pickled asparagus


Makes about 12 jars


You need one case of 1-pint glass canning jars, a jar lifter, a large kettle, and a canning-rack insert to go inside the kettle.

8 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed

3 tablespoons white or black peppercorns

6 cherry peppers (or another medium-hot chili pepper)

2 quarts white wine vinegar (7 percent acidity)

2 quarts water

1 quart tangerine juice (or orange juice)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the jars in the water and let them simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the jars with a jar lifter and set aside on clean kitchen towels. Put the lids in a colander or wire basket and simmer them, covered, in the water for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside on the towels.

2. Refill the pot with water and place a canning rack in the pot. Bring to a boil while you prepare the ingredients.

3. Rinse the asparagus. Cut off the bottom ends. Set aside.

4. In each jar, place 1 tablespoon of peppercorns. Cut the cherry peppers in half, discarding the stem and tip. Place 1 piece of pepper in each jar. Pack the asparagus into the jars, tips down; the spears should be tightly packed, but you should be able to pull one out easily. The top of the asparagus should come up to the fill line on the jar.

5. In another large pot, combine the white wine vinegar, water, tangerine juice, and salt and bring to a boil, whisking periodically to dissolve the salt. Reduce the heat to a high simmer.

6. Using a 2-cup glass measuring cup, fill the jars with hot brine so that the liquid covers the asparagus. Leave 1/2-inch headspace. Place the lids on the jars and tighten firmly; do not over tighten.

7. Using the jar lifter, set the jars into the indentations in the pot rack. The jars should not touch each other or the sides of the pot. When the last jar is in the pot, the water should completely cover the jars. (You will have to do this in two batches.)

8. Boil the jars for 6 minutes. Remove them with the lifter and transfer to a wire rack or tray. Boil the remaining jars in the same way. Let them sit for 24 hours to cool completely. Store in a cool place for two weeks.

Adapted from Rick Field



Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company



Quick asparagus refrigerator pickles


If standing over the pickle kettle seems a bit too steamy, you can also make a simple refrigerated version of Field's asparagus pickles. They take 24 hours to mellow but never have the same bite as the long method.

Follow the recipe for asparagus pickles. Prepare and boil the brine, then pack the asparagus with the cherry peppers and peppercorns in clean jars. Top the asparagus with the hot brine, and let the jars cool uncovered. Cover with the lids and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Jonathan Levitt



Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.