Lavender asparagus pickle

I actually made these some months ago after watching a segment on the Food Network about Brooklyn Brine‘s innovative pickle flavors. But I’ve noticed the pickle is getting kind of sexy in NYC right now. Go into any gourmet shop, and jars of them are on display right next to vosges chocolate and smoked almonds. Unlike imported cheese or olives, the ingredients that go into a good pickle are not high-end, but rather the opposite. In this case, granted asparagus is not the cheapest thing, and lavender is probably not for sale at the corner store. But the idea of a fancy pickle is not an overly ambitious or costly one where creativity is involved. When it feels like the blood pumping through your veins has turned to molasses, it’s nice to have something crisp and sour, but special, to munch on all afternoon, that won’t worsen the damage inflicted by Christmas cookies. Make a batch now, serve with a plate of nibblets at New Year’s next week. Sub with carrots or cauliflower if asparagus (which is not in season) seems too pricey or uninspiring in the market. Just hold onto a decent sized glass jar from your last batch of pickles or applesauce. Doesn’t work with plastic.

Lavender is one of my favorite flowers. A cousin to rosemary, it has kind of a woodsy quality. Besides being a beautiful color,it  is edible and works in both sweet and savory dishes. The lavender, mixed with vinegar, garlic and mustard seed has a wonderful freshness and zest to it (not perfume-y at all). Very provcencal. Actually, if you can’t get your hands on lavender, most herb de provence mixes have lavender buds in them as an ingredient, so you can substitute with that.

Lavender  Asparagus pickle

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/4 teaspoon lavender
  • white vinegar
  • salt
  • sugar
  • mustard seeds
  • water
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • red chili flakes

Preparation

Notice the lack of detail about specific measurements. How much of anything you use really depends on personal preference and the size of your jar. Break the asparagus spears in half to remove the woody ends, and blanch in boiling water for about 5-7 minutes until they turn bright green and become somewhat tender, but not overcooked. Toss into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Meanwhile, you can sterilize the pickle jar by boiling it in remaining water for about 5 minutes. Be careful with boiling hot glass.

In a  small saucepan, combine 1 and 2/3 cups white vinegar and a few tablespoons of sugar. Add a teaspoon of salt, garlic cloves (whole) and a sprinkling of mustard seeds. Let this come to the boil (it will burn your nostrils, so don’t stand over the mixture too much) and let it boil for about a minute to steep the garlic and mustard and let the sugar and salt dissolve.

Pack the blanched spears into the jar, leaving a little room at the top so they can be completely covered. Add some chili flakes and the lavender buds and pour the vinegar mixture over to cover.  Clean the rim and put on the lid. You can boil the whole thing for another 10 minutes if you want, but I’m fine with letting it cool and then sticking in the fridge.  If you are not confident in your sterilization process, I would consume within 2-3 weeks and keep in the fridge.

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