If you have planned ahead, you may have a thriving asparagus patch in your backyard. You have to start two years ahead of being able to eat or can anything from the asparagus growth. Once they have started, they come back year after year. If you are buying asparagus, or picking it at someone's farm, you will want 5 to 6 inch spears and tight green tips at one end of the stalk.
If you have never canned, to can vegetables, you will need a pressure canner. A pressure canner is a bit more expensive than the hot water bath equipment; however, it will last a hundred years so you can get your money's worth. Mom used a pressure cooker to cook almost everything. Potatoes for mashing takes no time on a Sunday after church when everyone is hungry. I like pressure cooked pork chops better than any other way. I discovered after I was married that Fordhook frozen lima beans cook the best in the pressure cooker. If you have never used one, you will find that this is a valuable asset for the kitchen.
Here is a list of equipment that you probably don't have in the kitchen if you have never canned.
- pressure canner
- canning set (funnel, tongs, lid lifter, and headspace measurer)
- lids and bands
- thick towel
You will need some big bowls and a big pot for boiling water. You will already have ladles. You might want salt for your asparagus. I personally don't add salt.
After cleaning the pressure canner, put a few inches of water in the bottom and turn the heat on low to start warming up the canner. Fill the big pot with water and turn it on to boil. Wash your jars in the dishwasher and leave them there with a heat cycle on. Get a smaller pan of hot water and put the lids in there after washing them. The lids will stay in the hot water until they go on the jars.
- Wash the asparagus and cut off any hard scales along the side of the spear. If you take the spear in your hands, you can feel where the spear is more tender. The asparagus will break off naturally at that point.
- Decide how you want to pack the asparagus in the jars. Do you want pieces? Do you want the whole spear? If you want the spear, you will have to use quart jars. You will still have to trim the asparagus to fit the jar. You will need 1 inch of head space in the jar. (I personally like the whole spear so I do quarts.)
- Pack the jars and add your salt if you want salt. It is suggested you add ½ teaspoon per quart. I do not use salt in mine. Once the asparagus is in the jar, pour in the boiling water from the big stockpot you have standing by. You still need the 1 inch of headspace. You still need to run the spatula around the inside of the jar to release the air bubbles. Be careful not to damage the spear. Wipe the top and the threads around the jar top. Put the lid and bands on each jar. Be sure it is snug but not too tight.
- Put the jars in the canner, as many as will fit. Put the lid on the canner but leave the vent open. (Check your manual from your manufacturer and always follow the manufacturer's instruction.)
- Put the heat on high and let the pressure canner vent for 10 minutes. Put the pressure weight on the canner and bring the pressure to 11 pounds. When the pressure hits 10 pounds, turn on the timer for 25 minutes. You want to keep the pressure at least 10 for the whole 25 minutes.
- Turn off the heat after the 25 minutes and let the pressure come down on its own. This will take a while. Don't jostle the cans. Don't put the pressure canner under cold water. Let it alone. Once the pressure is gone, sometimes you hear the sound like a click that says the pressure is gone, open the canner and take the jars out.
- Place the jars on a towel or wooden cutting board. Don't let the jars touch. Leave them alone until they cool and their seal is finished. They need to be saved in a dry cool place.