Dealing with an overflow of vegetables is a rather “happy problem” for a gardener or foodie to face. If your asparagus harvest has exceeded your expectations, consider fermenting them in what is essentially a brine. In addition to preserving the asparagus for later use, fermenting will bolster the nutrients in the asparagus and produce enzymes that can improve your digestion.
Chop the cleaned asparagus into 1- or 2-inch pieces with a paring knife, vegetable slicer or mandolin. The smaller the pieces, the faster they ferment. Place the asparagus in a bowl.
Dissolve the sea salt in a 2-cup, glass measuring cup so the mixture is easy to pour directly into a glass canning jar. Unless you have a 4-cup measuring cup, you will need to make two batches, or 2 and 3 tablespoons of salt for 2 cups of water.
Place some peppercorns or chopped garlic at the bottom of the canning jar, if you like, to imbue flavor in the asparagus as it ferments. Or add some green onions, chilies or dill.
Layer the pieces of asparagus in the canning jar, alternately adding more peppercorns, garlic or other additions, if you like. Press down on the asparagus as you tightly fill the jar.
Pour the salted water in the canning jar and submerge the asparagus, leaving about a 2-inch gap at the top of the jar. Place a heavier vegetable “weight” at the top of the jar in the form of a chili, cucumber, zucchini or chopped squash.
Close the canning jar and store the asparagus at room temperature. Although a warm temperature speeds the fermentation process, the jar should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Taste the asparagus after about five days. If it appeals to your taste buds, store it in the refrigerator, where it can be kept for up to nine months. Otherwise, return the jar to the shelf to ferment further and taste-test the asparagus every day or so. Vegetables can take up to three weeks to ferment, so try to be patient.
- Fermenting vegetables has a way of bringing people’s differing tastes to the surface, so to speak. Some people prefer a mild flavor while others prefer a tangy flavor, which takes more time. If you’re fermenting asparagus for people with different taste buds, make several canning jars and label them accordingly.
- You can ferment other vegetables in the same manner as asparagus.
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