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Washed asparagus ready for pickling and a recipe for hot garlic asparagus pickles at

How to Capture Spring with Pickled Asparagus

As a devoted pickler, I bring jars of pickled beets to potlucks, open dilly beans for a weeknight vegetable offering and garnish cheese and cracker plates with pickled carrot sticks.

Homemade pickles are extremely handy and my favorite party trick. And every year, my pickling season starts with pickled asparagus.

Living so close to Walla Walla, the first thing we see around here besides dandelion greens and overwintered spinach, is thick stalks of Walla Walla asparagus. No spring is complete without pickling a case (20 pounds) of this perennial favorite.

Hot garlic asparagus pickle recipe and canning instructions at
The canner rack holds 7 quarts of fat asparagus pickles with the tips turned down for easy grabbing.

I mean, asparagus is one of the most easy-going vegetables there is. It’s as simple to roast as it is to grill or toss on a flatbread. But the only way to extend the season is by canning pickled asparagus.

Pickle brine Basics

Using the same brine ratio (equal parts vinegar and water) year in and year out, I have played around with the flavorings–as one can do with pickle recipes.{Unlike other canning recipes, like tomatoes, when you cannot take creative license without compromising food safety.}

And yet, I keep coming back to a winning trio of pickling spice, garlic and crushed red pepper. The garlic and spice work in concert to give these spears just the right amount of heat and savoriness to balance the tartness from the brine.

Hot garlic asparagus pickle recipe and canning instructions at
Feel free to play with the seasonings and flavorings but keep the brine ratio 1:1 vinegar to water.

The other characteristic of these asparagus pickles is that they’re fat. I always buy more asparagus than I intend to can so that I can sort through to find the straightest and thickest stalks for premium asparagus pickles.

Raw pack pickles for Canning, or not

This recipe details instructions for raw pack asparagus pickles in a hot water bath canner. I preserve them so that I can store them at room temperature.

It is thrilling to pry open a jar in November and remember these sweet days of spring!

If hot water bath canning is new to you…

  • here are the basic instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  • here is a great rundown of the whole concept called raw pack {or cold pack} pickles–because you simply stuff jars full of fresh vegetables or fruits–from Food in Jars.
  • and here is my favorite introduction to canning guidebook from Ball, the jar makers.
Hot garlic asparagus pickle recipe and canning instructions at
Once sealed and cooled, canned pickled asparagus is on hand for quick snacks and appetizers.

Asparagus season is winding down, so don’t wait to make pickled asparagus that you’ll be proud to serve on the pickle platter at your 2017 holiday cocktail party.


and become a forager

Hot garlic asparagus pickle recipe and canning instructions at

Pickled Asparagus

Course: Preserves
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 7 quarts
Author: Lynne

This recipe is my all-star pickled asparagus recipe. It involves packing raw, trimmed asparagus into jars, adding spices and garlic and pouring over the hot brine before canning (or not--see Recipe Notes.) You can adjust the seasonings but preserve the brine ratio of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. Any less vinegar is unsafe and any more is--in my opinion--super tart. This is an excellent learning recipe for first time picklers.


  • 10 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 10 cups water
  • 12-15 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 1 cup canning salt

For each quart jar:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper


  1. Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a large pot, cover and bring to a simmer.

  2. Fill your boiling water canner 2/3 full with hot water and bring to a boil covered on the stove while you prepare the asparagus. If it comes to a full boil before you're ready, turn down the heat or turn it off. Have 7 jars with lids and rings washed and sterilized.

  3. Wash the asparagus in a sink full of cool water. Trim the woody ends and sort  through the asparagus to find the straightest and the thickest to pickle. (Save the rest for grilled or roasted asparagus with dinner.)

  4. Arrange the asparagus tip end down into sterilized quart jars, trimming more of the stem as necessary to fit with at least 1 inch of head space in the jar. (Reserve these asparagus pieces for stir fry or soup.)

  5. Fill all 7 quart jars with the asparagus, packing tightly. Add the garlic, pickling spice, dill and crushed red pepper to each jar.

  6. When the brine is hot, pour it into the jars and use a chop stick to remove air bubbles. Top off each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top for the required head space. Wipe the rims with a paper towel. 

  7. Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Seal the jars with the lids and screw on the rings just finger tight.

  8. Bring the canner back to a boil. Set each jar into the wire rack and place it onto the pot by the handles using hot pads. Slowly lower the rack so that it sits on the bottom and the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water.

  9. Monitor the canner so that it maintains a steady boil for 10 minutes (15 minutes for elevations from 1,000-6,000 feet). Lay a dry dish towel on the counter nearby.

  10. Turn off the heat. Then, lift the rack by the handles and set it on the edge of the pot. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars to the dish towel one at a time. To prevent the rack from tilting, remove jars opposite of one another and the center one last.

  11. Let the jars cool on the countertop until you hear the lids seal with a pop. Once cooled, remove the rings and test the seals. Store in a cool and dry location for up to 1 year, should they last that long.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes 7 quarts (or one full canner load) of asparagus pickles. If you prefer to make refrigerator pickles instead, you can reduce the recipe proportionately. For every quart of pickles, you'll need about 2 pounds of asparagus  to sort through to find the best specimens for pickling and about 2 cups of brine (equal parts water and vinegar). Add the garlic and spices as directed in the recipe. Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. The pickles are ready to eat in a few days and are optimally flavored in about 2 weeks.


  1. Robin

    5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing this incredible recipe. David just picked the asparagus from our garden, so they should be outstanding!

    1. Fresh-picked asparagus sounds like a luxury! Thanks for entrusting me with them.

  2. Cathy Barnett

    My cousin canned asparagus for me and the vinegar solution has a cranberry red color. No pepper flakes were used. Is this normal?

    1. I’m guessing your cousin used red wine vinegar for the brine.

  3. Virginia

    I noticed your Asparagus looks a little wrinkly. Does this go away after it sits a bit?

    1. You’re very observant, Virginia. I hadn’t noticed a wrinkly appearance when eating them, but I’m not 100% sure (since they’re gone). So, I’m going to contact a canning expert I know and I’ll report back soon.

  4. Cindy

    Is it ok to put all the spices and garlic on the bottom of the jar and then pack in the asparagus?

    1. Yes, that’s exactly how I do it, Cindy.

  5. Marcy

    Hi Lynne,
    I got some grocery store asparagus that I am not going to get eaten and thought I’d pickle for fun. My canning production doesn’t usually start until the end of the season so this is fun for me to can now (even if from the store). I love your brine recipe. perfect ratio! I’m curious why you pack them upside down? Also, the previous post asked if it was OK to pack the garlic and spices first and you said that’s how you do it, but your recipe says the opposite. Just an FYI. I love this recipe and will use this from now on!

    1. Hi Marcy, To be honest I have no ideas why I packed them upside down—-maybe to protest the tender tops? Works either way—just like the packing order of ingredients. Thanks for pointing that out so I can fix the recipe. Enjoy your pickled asparagus!

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