A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try freezing some asparagus spears after talking to the woman at Youker Farm Market (on US 37, south of Traverse City). She made it sound so simple, I said to myself, "why not"? Wash, trim, bag, and freeze. That's it!
I bought 5# of asparagus and headed home. I knew I already had some quart Ziplock Vacuum Freezer Bags, so figured I'd give it a whirl.
After washing the asparagus, I cut the spears to a length that would fit snugly into the quart bags.
As simple as the process was, I decided to freeze another 5# a couple of days later, but didn't use the Ziplock Vacuum Bags, only the regular Ziplock Freezer Bags. I consider it an experiment and will see what, if any, difference there is when I use them from the freezer later this year.
I'd posted these photos and wrote about my experience on Facebook about the process and a former student of mine commented on how he loves "pickled asparagus". Yep, that got me to thinking about how much I enjoy a pickled asparagus spear in a Bloody Mary. :) You can guess what happened next......
Not having canned "by myself" before, I searched the internet for a recipe that sounded simple enough for my first canning experience. Finding that, I went out and bought canning equipment and supplies. The recipe I found did require the asparagus to be "blanched"prior to being packed into the jars, and surprisingly, I had kept a blanching pot from "back in the day". Why I hadn't kept the canner we had, I have no idea......perhaps it was rusty? Besides blanching, all the recipe required, besides the asparagus, was vinegar, "canning" salt, cayenne pepper, dill seeds, garlic cloves, and water.
Next came the prep. It had to be washed and trimmed to length so it would fit into the pint jars. Much shorter lengths than trimming them for a quart freezer bag, but one that will look nice as a garnish for a Bloody Mary. See the "theme" here? LOL
Here are the "short spears" in the basket of the blancher and ready to go into the boiling water.
I'm sorry I didn't take the time to snap some photos while packing the jars of blanched asparagus and adding the spices, garlic clove, and brine to each jar, but I felt I had to move quickly and get them filled and into the canner for processing.
10 minutes later and they were cooling in the sink as I prepared to lift them out of the canner to place on the countertop to fully cool. By the way, they're cooling on one of the kitchen towels I wove. :) Soon after I had them cooling on the counter, one by one they began to "ping", which meant the lids had sealed as I hoped they would. :) As you can see in this photo, I didn't have enough spear heads to fill the 7 pints and actually added lengths of cut ends to fill a couple of the jars completely. They may not be as pretty, but they'll taste the same. ;)
Tomorrow, after this canning experience came Strawberry Jam! :)