It’s asparagus season!
So you may read this and, like my husband, wonder what would possess someone to roam ditches and pastures for asparagus when you can find locally grown spears in all the stores. Fair enough. But try it and you will understand! It’s not always just about taste. Sure, wild food usually tastes better but there is also the exhilaration that comes when you are foraging ‘in the wild’! I’m not beating my hands on my chest or anything, but hey, it’s fun what can I say. We did this all the time as kids with my mom even though friends of ours had an asparagus farm! This time of year I find myself looking out the window whenever we are out driving looking for the tell-tale signs of asparagus. A tall spear that has been left and now looks like a skinny little tree. If you see these there are sure to be asparagus growing around it. Of course, the old pros will often cut these down so their ‘spot’ is not easily found by newcomers!
Much like hunting for mushrooms there are ‘secret’ spots that are seldomly shared in fear of someone beating you to the pickings. We took a drive with Anna’s parents last week to find some wild asparagus. They guided us to their favorite spots, luckily without blindfolding us! We all turned into little kids as soon as the first one was spotted!
So just a few pointers before you run out foraging. Boots and long pants is a good idea, and please, please know what poison ivy looks like. A brutal experience with this myself:) A knife is handy for making clean cuts and a grocery bag or basket to hold your harvest will be needed as well. You may occasionally find some right at the roadside where the grass meets the shoulder. I wouldn’t pick these ones for eating though. Choose areas that are away from traffic to avoid pollution and choose pesticide free picking areas. Spotting asparagus requires driving slow and stopping frequently so be very attentive to other drivers on the road. Now go out and find some!
If you have a vegetable garden you can add asparagus to your plot too. They will start out as very thin spears and take a few years to produce good size asparagus but it is a great addition to any garden if you have the room and well worth the wait.
Asparagus are a tasty little vegetable to eat fresh with any meal but they are around for just a short period of time. One great way to preserve them is pickling. If you weren’t in the mood to forage for food you can find local asparagus in all the stores right now and they will work just as good. Nonna Pina showed us how to pickle asparagus this week, thanks nonna!
Try the easy to follow recipe below. We used roughly three pounds for this recipe and got 4 x 250ml jars of finished pickled asparagus. Try and use asparagus that are similar in diameter if you can.
- 3 pounds fresh asparagus
- 6 cups white vinegar
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- Trim off the bottom tough parts of the asparagus. You can feel when it gets tender because your knife won't feel any resistance and you can tell by color. Green is tender, pinkish grey is tough.
- Cut into 3 inch pieces or desired length to fit into your jars.
- Wash with cold water.
- Bring 6 cups of white pickling vinegar and 1/2 cup of pickling salt to a rolling boil.
- Add asparagus and cover with lid to bring back to a boil.
- Boil for 15 minutes.
- Drain and let cool. You can spread them out a bit to help cool off faster.
- Place the asparagus on a large tea towel or tablecloth, fold in half and place a tray/bowl with weight on top. This is to remove excess vinegar/liquid. Leave for two hours.
- Place asparagus in large bowl and add 1 cup of olive oil and mix well to ensure all the asparagus gets coated in oil.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oregano and 3 large cloves of garlic minced.
- Put asparagus in sterilized jar. Bounce jar on folded tea towel lightly to compact the asparagus slightly.
- Fill the jar with olive oil and seal with lid.
- Add hot pepper flakes