As winter melts away, the warming spring sun brings bounties of crisp, green veggies. Asparagus is a dinner favorite that many people wish they could enjoy year-round. While freezing vegetables is beneficial for long-term preservation, canning asparagus is often overlooked in its ability to keep the vegetables fresh while remaining tasty.
Canning is a food preservation method that seals food inside airtight containers. One of the advantages of knowing how to can asparagus is its capability to stay fresh while being stored at room temperature.
You end up saving room in the freezer and won’t ever worry about power outages that spoil your food. Canned food is also rich in vitamins and fiber, and some canned goods last up to 30 years at room temperature.
Learning how to can asparagus and other fresh veggies equips you and your family with a long-term food supply that can easily be added to any dish.
The process of canning produce began decades ago. Is it hard? No, canning is a simple process as long as you have the proper equipment. What do you need to can vegetables or fruit? Items like canning jars, lids, jar rings, pressure and water bath canners, and a few other items give you everything necessary for the canning process.
Before canning, you need to know how fresh your asparagus is. Does asparagus go bad? Yes, like any veggie, asparagus does spoil. Mold, slimy and limp spears, or a bad odor are all indicators of spoiled asparagus. Throw them in the compost bin or in the garbage.
Fresh asparagus is a low-acid food meaning it must be pressure canned for safe storage. Improper home canning risks the chance of botulism. The one exception to using a water bath canner on asparagus is when you are pickling asparagus.
Wash and prep any type of vegetable before canning under running, cold water. Thoroughly dry the asparagus spears with a paper towel. Hold an individual spear on either end and gently bend it.
The spear breaks precisely where the stalk becomes tender enough for eating. Using either wide mouth quart jars or pint jars, hold the spear upright against the side of the canning jars to gauge if the asparagus fits.
Trim the spears down to the appropriate sizes and save the trimmings for other asparagus recipes for canning. Decide between raw packing or hot packing your veggies.
Although it is safe to raw pack the asparagus before canning, hot packing or blanching is a cooking and preparation tool used on many green veggies before being canned.
Blanching asparagus for freezing or canning pre-cooks them, makes them more flavorful and helps prevent the produce from floating in the canning liquid. To blanch your raw asparagus, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water boils, fill a large bowl with ice and water. Place the asparagus in the boiling water bath for two minutes. Use tongs to remove them and put them straight into the ice water. Lay the spears out on a paper towel to dry.
How to Can Asparagus
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, an average of 24½ pounds fill a canner load of seven quarts, and 16 pounds fill a canner load of nine pints.
Lay your canning jars on their side and begin to pack asparagus into the proper jar size. Make the jar as tightly packed as possible to ensure the spears won’t float up and out of the canning liquid.
If you like, add one teaspoon of canning salt to each jar. Adding salt is optional, as it is only for taste and not for food preservation.
Boil water in a large pot. Dump the hot water inside the jars, leaving a one-inch headspace between the surface of the liquid and the lid. Place the seal and rings on and tightly close them before you begin pressure canning.
Using a pressure canner, adjust the dial gauge to process the jars at ten pounds pressure for a processing time of 40 minutes. A pressure canner load must have at least two quart jars or four pint jars.
Spread out a large dish towel. Remove the hot jars from the canner with an oven mitt of jar lifter and set them on the towel undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the lids and seals of each jar to make sure they seal correctly.
Asparagus Recipes for Canning
The best way to store asparagus for the long term is by canning. One of our favorite ways to can asparagus is by pickling them or turning them into a soup.
Pickling Asparagus Spears
These asparagus recipes for canning turn plain asparagus into a garnish for a bloody Mary or dinner for date night.
Combine boiling water with the vinegar in a large stockpot. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Place one clove of garlic, a few peppercorns, and one teaspoon of red pepper flake at the bottom of each canning jar.
Pack whole spears or cut the spears into one-inch pieces and pack them in jars, leaving an inch headspace at the top. Ladle the brine to fill jars until the liquid is a half-inch from the top.
Gently move the contents with a rubber spatula to remove air bubbles from the canning jars. Wipe the rim with a damp paper towel or cloth and secure the lid. If you are storing this asparagus recipe in the fridge, let it sit there for a week before eating.
If storing at room temperature, there are only a few more steps. Simmer water in the water bath cooker. Lift and lower the jars into the bath with a jar lifter, then boil the cans over medium-high heat for ten minutes.
Turn off your burner and lay a large dishtowel on your counter. Let jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals. If you have leftover brine from this asparagus recipe, add some other vegetables directly to it and place it in your fridge to pickle or add oil to make a vinaigrette.
When does asparagus go bad after pickling? Pickled produce usually lasts for several years as long as the seal remains secure on the jars.
Cabbage can be stored in a way that is similar to pickling, but not exactly the same. Making sauerkraut in Mason jars involves fermentation of the cabbage and is a healthy way to eat the vegetable.
Canning Asparagus Soup
Knowing how to can asparagus means it’s easy to create other delicious canning recipes. Asparagus soup makes an excellent dinner option and keeps well at room temperature after canning.
In a large stockpot, add butter, onion, celery, salt and pepper, and tarragon over high heat and cook for ten minutes. Add asparagus, cut into inch size pieces, and cook for ten minutes.
Add chicken broth and tomatoes and simmer for one hour. Use an immersion blender or blender and blend until the consistency is smooth.
Eat as is or ladle soup into canning jars, leaving one inch at the top. Use a pressure canner at 11 pounds of pressure for one hour if using pint jars and 75 minutes for quart jars.
Here are some frequently asked questions about canning. We’re confident these extra tips are helpful if you’re a beginner canner.
Can food that didn’t seal properly be re-canned?
It is safe to re-can an improperly sealed jar only if it is within 24 hours of the original canning. To can again, check the surface of the jar where the seal sits. If it’s free from any dents or nicks, try re-canning with a new lid.
How long does canned food last?
When properly canned and stored, canned food remains at its highest quality for one year. Keep canned food away from warm and damp spaces.
Is it safe to reuse jar lids?
Never reuse a lid for canning food. The previous use already indented the seal and won’t correctly work if used again. However, the band that holds the seal is safe to reuse as often as you’d like.
Learning how to can asparagus is a fun activity that keeps your favorite foods in your weekly dinner rotation, especially if you want to keep the flavors of spring in your home throughout the season.
Once you know the basics of canning, you can apply your new skills to any other veggie you can get your hands on.
If you can’t get enough of these greens and have decided to start canning asparagus, share these asparagus recipes on Facebook and Pinterest.