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Pickled Asparagus

about 30 thin asparagus spears
2 quarts cold water
1/4 cup coarse salt
1 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp dill seed
1 small white onion, peeled and sliced into very thin rings
2 small hot red chile peppers, fresh or dried
2 stalks fresh dill

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the spears into
3-1/2 inch lengths. Place the asparagus in a large enamel or
stainless steel bowl. Combine cold water and 1/4 cup salt; cover
asparagus with the solution. Let stand uncovered for 2 hours. Drain
the asparagus and rinse under cool water. Pat dry.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp salt, mustard seed, dill seed,
and onion rings in an enamel or stainless steel saucepan. Bring to
a boil and boil for 1 minute. Pack the cooled asparagus, tips up,
in hot, sterilized canning jars (pintsize; wide-mouth jars are
probably easier to pack), making sure to leave 1/2 inch of headroom.
The best way to do this is to line the asparagus around the inner
edge of the jar first and then fill in the center. Tuck a hot red
chile pepper and 1 dill stalk into each jar. Pour hot pickling
liquid into jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rims, making
sure all spears are thoroughly covered. Wipe rims with a clean damp
cloth and seal with lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10
minutes. Cool to room temperature, check seal, label, and store in
a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Yield: 2 pints


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