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Asparagus 10lb #2 Grade
Great for Canning
Sort through the asparagus and toss any spears that have gone soft, gotten soggy or shriveled. They won't make for good eating fresh, and will be even less appealing when thawed from frozen. Rinse the remaining spears in a colander under cold running water.
Trim the Woody Ends
Have you ever nibbled down to the stem end of an asparagus spear only to have it lodge in your teeth like an unwelcome house guest? Then you know what a dental nightmare untrimmed asparagus can be. An easy way to trim is to bend the end of a raw spear and snap off the white woody nub at its natural breaking point. Another way — one that keeps more of the edible spear intact — is to cut off about an inch from the bottoms then shave away the fibrous skin with a vegetable peeler. Either method will work for freezing. Just be sure to freeze your trimmings separately to make asparagus soup later. #spoileralert
Blanch the Spears
This step seems finnicky, but the frozen asparagus will look and taste so much better if you boil them briefly then shock them in ice water. Just do the following:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, combine set aside a large bowl of ice water.
- If your asparagus spears vary in thickness, boil the thickest ones first, just until they turn bright green, about 4 minutes. Boil medium spears for about 3 minutes, then thinner ones for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the asparagus from the water with tongs or a mesh spider and plunge into the prepared ice bath, just until cooled.
- Drain and pat completely dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Freeze the Asparagus
Cut the dried asparagus into 1- to 2-inch pieces, depending on how you plan to cook them afterward. If you want to get fancy, cut the spears on a diagonal. Transfer the asparagus to freezer bags and label them with the date. Don't overcrowd the bags — these are delicate vegetables, not items in carry-on luggage. You want to keep the pieces in a single layer so they'll freeze quickly and last for up to 8 months.
How to Cook Frozen Asparagus
- 10 to 12 pounds asparagus
- 7 large cloves garlic cut in half
- 5 cups water
- 5 cups vinegar
- 5 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
Optional additions per jar:
- 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Clean 7 pint or 12-oz jars, along with the lids and rings well with soap and hot water. Keep the clean jars warm by placing into warm canner water, filled with hottest tap water in the sink. **See notes below for refrigerator pickling.**
Prepare asparagus: Put one spear in a jar and cut it to 1/2" below the jar top, then use that as a measure for cutting the remainder of the asparagus. Have all the asparagus cut before proceeding.
Fill a water-bath canner 1/2 to 3/4 full of water and bring to a low boil.
Add water, vinegar, canning salt and sugar to a large, non-reactive pot. Stir well and bring to a slow boil.
Pack the jars: place a garlic clove and the optional peppercorns and red pepper flakes in the bottom of each jar and fill with asparagus spears point-side down. Pack them in tight, as they'll shrink when heated.
Fill the jars, one at a time, with the hot vinegar mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a non-metal spatula, replace any brine as needed to keep headspace, and wipe rim with a damp towel.
Attach lid and ring, tightening to just fingertip tight.
Lower each jar as you fill it into the canner (or set them on a rack resting on the canner) using a jar lifter. Continue filling each jar and placing them in the canner until done.
Bring the canner to a rolling boil over high heat. Set a timer for 10 minutes and adjust the heat so the canner continues at a soft boil.
When the timer goes off, turn off the burner, remove the lid, and let jars sit for 5 minutes (updated USDA recommendation). Use the jar lifter to remove each jar and set on a towel-lined surface as gently as possible. Leave to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check lids and seals, store any unsealed jars in the fridge and store the rest, without the rings, in a cool, dark, place. The jars are best used within a year (but we've eaten 2-year-old jars and they've been fine).
- Clean jars, but don't worry about keeping them warm, and fill with vegetables, spices and vinegar mixture as outlined.
- You can fill the brine all the way to the top, since headspace doesn't matter.
- Attach lids as outlined, let sit on the counter for a bit until cooled and place in the refrigerator for storage. They will last 6 months to a year.