I missed the asparagus at Codrington’s first farmer’s market of the year, but managed to pick some up last Sunday. Asparagus is delicious as a dilled ferment, or simply with salt. The biggest challenge is finding a way to fit it all into the jar! A height of a one-quart jar usually doesn’t cut it, requiring that more than just the woody ends be removed. You can overcome this by making chunks of asparagus (or, for that matter, adding sliced asparagus to other ferments like kimchi), but I was after the whole stem.
Fortunately, I had a 1.5-quart jar sitting around that would be just the thing. The other trick with this type of brine-based ferment is that the asparagus tend to float up. Any exposed asparagus is an invitation to mushy asparagus at best, pathogenic bacteria at worst. Keeping all stems submerged allows only (beneficial) anaerobic bacteria to work on preserving the asparagus – that’s the kind of bacteria we want, in fermentation.
For this reason, I have been experimenting with using weights in my ferments. In the past I have relied on having sufficient juices/brines and tightly-packed vegetables to keep everything submerged. But these methods are no guarantee, and I’ve thrown out several spoiled batches. With new products available now it seems silly not to give them a try. For this batch of asparagus I’ve used the Masontops Pickle Pebble, a smooth glass weight that sits on top of the veggies to hold everything under. It’s hard to see in the picture, but that’s because it’s clear glass! I will be making these products available at workshops for the coming season!