In Season: Asparagus!

Asparagus is good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and the B vitamins.

Asparagus is in season in from mid-May to mid-June, for around $3.50 per pound. Our local source is Duggan Farms:

2651 Camp Road
Lake Country, BC V4V
Tel (250) 766-2628

* Please call ahead.

– – – – –

Place your order for asparagus about 3 days before you want to pick it up. Purchase or gather together other needed supplies, and set them up in the kitchen.

Supplies and Ingredients:

Ziplock large freezer bags, or reusable containers for refrigerator storage

Food-Saver vacuum sealer

Food-Saver plastic, 2 rolls of 11×16, $21.97

sharp scissors, to cut the Food-Saver plastic

water bath canner

kettle, for boiling water as needed

large pot

small pot

canning funnel

canning tongs

24 jars and rings

Bernardin canning lids, 2 packages of 12, $9.98

25 lbs of asparagus

cutting board

sharp knife

large bowl

colander

dish towels and cloths

kitchen scale

measuring cups and spoons

4 L of 5% natural vinegar, $2.98

pickling salt, $2.49

granulated white cane sugar, $3.32

dill seed

dried dill

cayenne pepper

mustard seed

celery seed, $4.99

garlic, $2.31

– – – – –

Ok, so here are my steps for preparing and preserving asparagus, for the fridge, the freezer, and two kinds of pickles.

The first main task is to trim off the woody ends, sort into sizes, measure the weight, and wash the asparagus. It may take about 3 hours.

1. Using a good knife, gently cut the end of each asparagus stem on top of a cutting board. If the stem is soft, cut it all the way. If it is hard, move the knife up the stem little by little until the asparagus is soft. Put the woody ends into a large bowl. Working through all the asparagus stems, make four separate piles: long and thick, long and thin, short and thick, and short and thin.

2. Measure the weight of each pile. This year, my categories are as follows:

Total:

25 lbs of asparagus, x $3.50 lb = $87.50

25 lbs of asparagus x 453.59 g = about 11000 g or 11 kg

$87.50/11 kg = $7.95 per kg of asparagus.

Trimmed and sorted:

Long and thick: 3 kg = 3 ziplock bags of 1 kg each, to put in the fridge for fresh eating. 3 kg x $7.95 = $23.85

Long and thin: 2 kg = 2 bags of 1 kg each, to vacuum-seal and freeze. 2 kg x $7.95 = $15.90

Long and thin: 2 kg, set aside for pickles.

Short and thick: 1 kg, set aside for pickles.

Short and thin: 1 kg, set aside for pickles.

4 kg x $7.95 = $31.80

Bernardin canning lids, 2 packages of 12, $9.98

4 L of 5% natural vinegar, $2.98

garlic, $2.31

Cost of pickles: $47.07/ 24 jars = $1.96 per jar

Woody ends: 2 kg, to vacuum-seal and freeze, to include in vegetable broth next fall. 2 kg x $7.95 = $15.90

3. Fill a sink half full of cold water. Gently swish each pile of asparagus seperately, place in a colander or bowl to remove excess water, and then onto a dish towel. Bag and seal asparagus for the fridge and freezer. Each step here may take 2 to 5 minutes. (Ziplock bags or containers work great to keep asparagus fresh in the fridge. For the freezer, I always use a vacuum-sealer now. I have had vegetables keep 2 to 4 years even!)

4. Set out ingredients for asparagus pickles: 12 garlic cloves, dill seed, cayenne pepper, 4 L of 5% vinegar, a kettle of hot water, canning salt, celery seed, mustard seed, dried dill, and white cane sugar.

5. Fill a clean dishwasher (or sink, to wash by hand) with 24 pint jars and rings, a small amount of dishwasher detergent, and wash on the hottest setting. Fill a water bath canner with water.

6. Break for lunch.

– – – – –

The second main task is to make the pickles. It may take another 3 hours from start to finish, including clean up.

7. Batch #1: Asparagus Pickles with Garlic and Dill.

Bring canner to a boil. Peel 12 garlic cloves. Place one in the bottom of each of 12 pints. Add 1 ml of dill seed to each jar, and a few shakes of cayennne pepper to 6 jars.

8. Trim the asparagus so that it will fit 3 cm down from the rim of the jar. Stems that have no tops, cut into short pieces.

Short and thick: 1 kg 200 g

Short and thin: 1 kg

This will make 6 pints of asparagus spears and 6 pints of pieces.

9. In a large pot, combine 4x 250 ml each of hot water and 5% white vinegar. Add 120 ml canning salt. Stir, and bring to a boil. Add 12 canning lids to a small pot of water, and bring to a boil.

10. Using a canning funnel and a measuring cup or ladle, fill each jar with brine, leaving 1 cm of headspace. Using a butter knife, remove air bubbles and add more brine if necessary. Wipe rims of jars with a clean, hot, damp cloth. Apply canning lids and loosely tighten rings.

11. Using canning tongs, place jars in a boiling water canner, and boil for 10 minutes. Set on a towel or rack to cool. Repeat with the next 6 pints. The jars should seal within 20 minutes of being out of the canner, but may take longer. Check the seals by pressing on the lids. If the lid moves or makes a sound, it hasn’t sealed and can be boiled again with a following batch, or refrigerated in a few hours if it hasn’t sealed by then.

12. Allow jars to sit for 7 days for best flavour development. Yield: 12 pints.

– – – – –

13. Batch #2: Sweet Asparagus Pickles.

Bring canner to a boil. Set out 12 pints. To each jar, add: 1 ml of celery seed, 2 or 4 ml of mustard seed, and 10 ml of dried dill.

14. Trim the asparagus so that it will fit 3 cm down from the rim of the jar. Stems that have no tops, cut into short pieces.

Tall and thin: 2 kg

This will make 6 pints of asparagus spears and 6 pints of pieces.

15. In the same large pot, with any remaining brine, add 6x 250 ml of hot water and 8x 250 ml 5% white vinegar. Add 400 g white cane sugar and 80 ml canning salt. Stir, and bring to a boil. Add 12 canning lids to a small pot of water, and bring to a boil.

16. Using a canning funnel and a measuring cup or ladle, fill each jar with brine, leaving 1 cm of headspace. Using a butter knife, remove air bubbles and add more brine if necessary. Wipe rims of jars with a clean, hot, damp cloth. Apply canning lids and loosely tighten rings.

17. Using canning tongs, place jars in a boiling water canner, and boil for 10 minutes. Set on a towel or rack to cool. Repeat with the next 6 pints. The jars should seal within 20 minutes of being out of the canner, but may take longer. Check the seals by pressing on the lids. If the lid moves or makes a sound, it hasn’t sealed and can be boiled again with a following batch, or refrigerated in a few hours if it hasn’t sealed by then.

18. Allow jars to sit for 7 days for best flavour development. Yield: 12 pints.

– – – –

19. Load the dishwasher, wash counters and tables, and sweep the floor.

20. Let the canner cool, and wash it the next day. Also the next day, tighten the rings on the jars, wash jars gently if they are sticky, and store in a cool, dark place.

Merry Christmas!

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

~~ Luke 2:8-14, New King James Version

Good Gardening Soil

Question: What is the best gardening soil for a large garden bed?

We bought mushroom manure three years ago for about $35 per yard, plus a small delivery fee. The company dumped it in front our house, and we used our wheelbarrows to move it where we wanted. I wasn’t sure at first because I had read conflicting information, but it was the best looking soil, compost, and mulch mix for the lowest price. It turned out to be amazing for all of our flowers, herbs, and vegetables. We had a huge difference in growth and production between the plants that got mushroom manure and the ones that didn’t. It also looked great! I highly recommend it.

A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All

For a few months now I’ve been reading “Of Two Minds” by Charles Hugh Smith. He seems to have good ideas about what is going on with the economy, politics, and the culture in general. Not only that, but he has ideas about solutions. In the last week or so I read his book “A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All: The Future Belongs to Work That Is Meaningful“. I don’t agree with everything, but I think he has some very good, practical ideas that can be implemented in a variety of ways in families, schools, workplaces, and new organizations. It is exciting to have some ideas to work towards that really might make things better for people, the size and scale remaining to be seen.

The Solid Rock

Edward Mote, 1834

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Source: Timeless Truths – The Solid Rock

To God Be the Glory

Frances J. Crosby, 1865

To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

Source: Timeless Truths – To God Be the Glory