How to Ferment Asparagus

by M.T. Wroblewski
Fermented vegetables like asparagus taste sour but are sweet with health benefits.

Fermented vegetables like asparagus taste sour but are sweet with health benefits.

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.

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Items you will need

  • Paring knife, vegetable slicer, knife or mandolin
  • Bowl
  • Sea salt
  • 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • 1-quart glass canning jar
  • Peppercorns, chopped garlic, green onions, chilies or dill (optional)
  • Chili, cucumber, zucchini or chopped squash


  • 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.

About the Author

If you can't see the world, then you may as well try to meet (or at least talk to) everyone in it. So goes the hopeful thinking of many journalists, including Mary Wroblewski. This is why you'll see her work in a wide variety of publications, especially those in the business, education, health care and nutrition genres. Mary came of age as a reporter and editor in some of Chicago's scrappiest newsrooms but softened up long enough to write nine children's books as well as one nonfiction tome.

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