Pickled AsparagusI’ll say I’m a self-made champion of vinegar pickles. Last summer, I made my first “Quick Dill Pickles” and celebrated how easy it was: to assemble and simmer the brine, to pour it into my reserved pickle jars, to refrigerate them -- to eat pickles! Now, for summer 2013, I’ve made the “Asparagus Pickles,” from the April 2013 issue of Food & Wine. Like my kirby cuke version, the asparagus pickle brine includes dill sprigs, distilled white vinegar, water, salt, garlic, black peppercorns, mustard seeds. Also included here is a bit of sugar and dried red chile peppers. This brine held a satisfying level of “tangy/sour.”

Of course, you’ll make sure to trim the tougher bottoms off your asparagus spears, so they will fit standing up in your pickle jar. Asparagus is less “neutral” than a cucumber. It retains a crunch that a cucumber may not. I liked the crunch. I kept my jar in the fridge for two days before I opened and ate the pickled asparagus.

Rose & Raspberry Pickled BeetsFor a different kind of brine and different kind of pickle, I’ve also made the “Rose and Raspberry Pickled Beets,” from the June 2013 issue of Cooking Light. A little more prep is involved, here. The beets first need to be baked in a pot of water for 50 minutes, then peeled and cubed. That’s not too difficult.

This brine includes black peppercorns, fresh thyme, fresh raspberries, dry rose wine, sugar, red wine vinegar, and salt. After simmering, you need to strain this brine, so all you’ll have is the vividly red, sweet raspberry/vinegar juice.

I like what I’ve made here. It’s a sweet pickled beet and it’s easy. Whatever mysteries were attached to this formulation are gone, now. If I want a pickled beet, I can do it. And I can do it well.

Asparagus (1 lb.) = $4.62
Dried Red Chile Peppers (6) = .10¢
Red Beets (1 lb.) = $1.49
Raspberries (1 1/2 cups) = $5.36

PREP TIMES: asparagus pickles are quick to prep, but should sit it the fridge for more than one day; pickled beets take more than an hour to prep, then need a night in the fridge
crunchy asparagus are tangy and sour; beets are sweet and sour

Next time, I’ll made a simple summertime dish: the “Pork with Rice Noodles, Scallions, and Chile,” from the June/July 2013 issue of Fine Cooking. Come back to my site next week to see my meal.