Years ago, I posted a recipe on this blog for fermented asparagus, in which I described the amazing nutritional benefit as a source of good microbes and a prebiotic. The resulting flavour of the recipe needed some work, however. It was one of those ferments that I ate only because I knew it was good for health (as if that is a great reason for our food choices).
As one lady who tried the recipe remarked, “The store-bought [canned] pickled asparagus spears have better flavour than these fermented asparagus.” These words launched a challenge. This spring, I resolved to improve the flavour of this fermented asparagus recipe. I wanted people to prefer it over canned varieties. Nutritionally, fermented asparagus surpass canned, though nutritional food must also be pleasurable for best absorption. Where we eat, with whom we eat, and the enjoyment with which we eat improves digestibility and absorption of nutrients. Only in times of complete desperation to regain health may people force themselves to eat unpalatable foods. I certainly did.
Last May, when asparagus were in-season, I fermented three different spice and herb concoctions with asparagus. This August I sampled these batches with my husband. “B” was our least favourite – a total flop, to put it bluntly. It had mustard seeds and garlic cloves. My husband and I ate it first to get rid of it, hence, the empty jar. We prefer “A” and “C” (recipes below).
The spears were soft when I began sampling in August. Busyness delayed my sampling. Fermented asparagus is ready to eat after a week on the counter-top. Adding a couple raspberry, grape, oak, or horseradish leaves to the jars will keep the spears crisp. These leaves have tannins, compounds that keep cucumbers, zucchini, and other soft-skin vegetables crisp during fermentation.
Note: These jars originally had more asparagus packed inside. The spears were pack tightly enough to ensure they remained straight up and down and submerged under brine. Packing too tightly may bruise the spears. Find the right balance. My husband liked them a little more than I realized before I had time to take these photos.