Preserving the Harvest – Pickled Dilly Asparagus Spears

dill asparagus spearsWe’ve got a small asparagus patch at the Land of Fruits and Nuts. Not really enough of a harvest to have to can, but enough to whet my husband’s appetite. So, when it goes on sale during asparagus season, I buy a bunch and make pickled dilly asparagus spears. Now, for me, the cheapest I have found it is $0.99 a pound . . . it may be cheaper in your neck of the woods and it may not.

Dilly asparagus spears are a way to preserve the harvest so to speak without pressure canning. Asparagus is, like most vegetables, a low acid food so to be safe, asparagus must be pressure canned for safe shelf storage unless you add acid and pickle it. And boy is it good with some dill and garlic.

For asparagus speaks, I like the pint and 1/2 jars. Now these are supposed to be processed like quart jars and they are tall, so you have to have a tall pot to cover the tops with an adequate amount of water. But here’s the recipe for a regular pint size jar.

Ingredients

For six (6) wide mouth pint jars, you will need:

10 pounds asparagus
6 large garlic cloves
4 1/2 cups water
4 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
6 small hot peppers (optional – I don’t use)
1/2 cup canning salt
3 teaspoons dill seed

Directions

First, wash and rinse canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions. You don’t need to sterilize the jars first because you will be processing for at least ten (10) minutes.

Next, start your brine. In a large non-reactive pot, combine water, vinegar, hot peppers (if using), salt and dill seed. Bring to a boil.

While the mixture is coming to a boil, peel and wash garlic cloves. Also wash asparagus. Cut stems from the bottom to leave spears with tips that fit into the canning jar with a little less than 1/2 inch headspace.

When brine is about to boil, place washed, rinsed and warm canning jars on a flat surface on top of a towel. Place a garlic clove at the bottom of each jar. Now, I also add additional dill seed or dill weed to each jar because I love the dill flavor. You can add additional dried spices without upsetting the acidity level or causing problems.

Tightly pack asparagus into jars with the blunt ends down.

Fish out hot peppers if using and place one hot pepper in each jar over asparagus spears. Pour boiling hot pickling brine over spears, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude). Process time is for pints or 12 ounces jars. After processing is complete, turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. Remove from water bath and place on counter on towel. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Allow pickled asparagus to sit in processed jars for 3 to 5 days before eating for best flavor development. They taste good right after, however, as my husband can never wait.

Preserving the Harvest – Raspberry Chocolate Sundae Topper

raspberry chocolateIt is harvest time at here at the farm. Or perhaps I should save summer harvest because it seems like I am harvesting year round. Right now, I’ve got buckets and buckets of blueberries and raspberries. Well, I have buckets as long as I beat out the peahens and the dogs. I didn’t even know dogs would eat blueberries straight off the blueberry bushes until I watched my dogs do it. Silly puppies.

I still have pints of blueberry and raspberry jams from last summer, so I wanted to find some different ways to preserve the berries. For the raspberries, I came across a recipe for a sinful ice cream topper in the Ball preserving book – a chocolate raspberry sundae topper. The recipe calls for:

Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (make sure it is unsweetened)
    • 6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
    • 4-1/2 cups crushed red raspberries (measure after crushing)
    • 6-3/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions

So, the first step is to prepare you boiling water canner. This is your large pot with water added. Add a canning rack or a round cake cooling rack to the bottom so the jars are lifted off of the bottom. Fill partway with water. If you have hard water, you can add a splash of white distilled vinegar to keep residue from forming on the jars, or just plan on wiping them off when you are doing. Add the jars to the water and heat to simmering but do not bring to a boil. Keep in mind you are going to want the water to be at least 1 and 1/2 inches over the jars when they are full and being processed.

When the water is hot, scoop a little in a bowl and add the jar lids. Set bands aside.

For the sundae topper, place the cocoa powder and the pectin in a small glass bowl and combine. Set aside. In a non-reactive sauce pan, add the crushed raspberries and lemon juice. Whisk in the pectin/cocoa mixture until dissolved. Bring mixture to boil over high heat.  Add sugar all at once, and return mixture to full roiling boil stirring constantly. Keep a full roiling boil for 1 minute, stirring. At end of minute, remove from heat.  The mixture will be richly, deeply red and glassy.  See the picture of my topper in the pot.

Skim foam off if desired. Let sit 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into the jars (remove them from the water first and set on counter on top of dish rag or cloth). Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Center lids (warmed in water) on jar and place screw bands, tightening until “finger tip” tight.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude). Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. Remove jars and set on counter top on top of dish rag. Let sit 24 hours and check seal.

If seal is good, label and store. To use, warm and put on ice cream. Or use in a crepe or on pancakes. The topper is sinfully delicious and rich.