Adriaen Coorte, A bundle of asparagus, 1703
30 x 23 cm, oil on canvas, Fitzwilliam Museum

The Dutch Golden Age painter Adriaen Coorte was relatively unknown until the mid-twentieth century when a Dutch art historian began publishing papers about his work (1). This may have been because he was not a master in the local arts guild in the 17th century. Coorte is thought to have been an amateur artist, painting what pleased him because he was fined in 1695 for selling his paintings at the market (2).  Coorte often painted the same subject over and over the most common being asparagus and wild strawberries. The composition is minimal, a dark background with the subject perched on a ledge in the foreground. The perfectly lit still lifes retain a sense of calm that have been likened to ‘bodegón‘ works.

pickled asparagus

{Pickled Asparagus}

adapted from The NY Times

30 asparagus spears
3/4 c white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp dill
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

Cut bottoms off of the asparagus to make them fit standing upright in mason jars. Fill a skillet with about two inches of water so that all of the asparagus spears are covered. Bring to a boil and quickly remove the spears and place in ice water to blanch them. Set aside.

Combining the white vinegar and 3/4 cup of water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil with the salt. Stir and cook until the salt dissolves.

Place the canning jar in a pot of boiling water with the lid. Lift out with tongs and place on clean towels to dry. Once dry, pack with the asparagus and pour over the vinegar solution to cover the asparagus. Add in the sliced garlic, mustard seeds, chili flakes, coriander seeds, and dried dill. Cover with the lid and place upside down on a cutting block.

After 20 minutes turn the jar back over. The lid should be indented signaling that the jar has become sealed. Place in the refrigerator for about a week before opening and enjoying. Can store for 4 months in a cool dark place.

asparagus