Do you find asparagus tasty? Do you find it hard to keep them fresh? I love to add asparagus in my dishes. The vegetable is a rich source of vitamins A and C, folate, and other vital nutrients [i]. Until a few recently, it was hard for me to preserve asparagus properly. Often, the vegetable dried out in a short time, or it got mushy and stinky fast. I finally learned how to store asparagus the right way!
Last week, I had dinner at a friend’s house and I noticed that the asparagus did not taste that very good. Was it out of season? Was it stored properly? I looked briefly at my friend’s stock of asparagus, and it dawned on me that they had gone stale! I realized that there are many asparagus aficionados out there who are facing the same struggles (hand to forehead), so I decided to save my fellow foodies the same fate. Never had asparagus before? Here's our take on what asparagus tastes like.
First things first, if you store asparagus properly, it can last for up to 10 months. Check out this cool chart to see when produce is in season and where.
Tips on How to Pick Asparagus in the Store
It can be tough to spot fresh asparagus. Since it can be a tricky search, we have compiled a list to make the process easier for you. [ii]
- Pick up asparagus spears in your hand and check if they are firm with no soft spots. Ideally, they must be straight and should not bend easily.
- Touch the spear tips. They should be tightly closed. Fresh and delicious asparagus has a purple or dark green tinge on these tips. On the contrary, dried out or yellowish tips mean that the asparagus is old, and will not have a vibrant flavor.
- Don’t choose any wilting, mottled, or blemished asparagus. Similarly, flowers on asparagus are a negative sign.
- Take the stalks in your hand and observe their bottoms (tee hee). They must be plump and moist. If they appear woody, cracked, or dry, then they are past their expiry date.
What Is the Best Way to Store Asparagus?
While there are numerous ways to keep asparagus fresh, I always rely on the blanching procedure below. [iii]
What Will You Need?
An alternative to storing asparagus is to leave the rubber band on asparagus, trim it, put it in a jar of water, cover it with upright with a plastic bag, and keep it in the fridge. Another approach is to preserve it in a water bath canner with pickles and spices. In this way, they can last for a month. However, I have opted for the blanching method because it is the most reliable one. Asparagus is comprises enzymes that give the plant its nutrients. However, if it not blanched, then these enzymes continue to compromise the nutritional content, color, texture, and flavor of asparagus. Hence, blanching deactivates this internal activity. With blanching, you can keep asparagus in the freezer for more than 10 months.
Step-By-Step Instructions to Blanch Asparagus
Follow these nine steps to preserve your stock of asparagus.
Clean the Asparagus
Use running water to clean the asparagus. If your asparagus is noticeably dirty, then there is a better method. Fill cold water in a large bowl and swish the asparagus in it. Rub lightly if dirt is being stubborn.
Create Three Batches
Rearrange your asparagus into groups of large, medium, and small spears. Since you need more time to blanch larger spears, you have to blanch each batch separately. If you are unsure of how to define sizes for your spears, then keep in mind that spears that measure ½ inch or more in diameter qualify as the large spears. Smaller ones are slim like a pencil.
Trim the Larger Ones
Now, trim the large spears, so they end up with 1-2 inches in length. It is optional to cut the shorter spears; you can leave them as is.
Remember the pot I mentioned earlier in the post? Let’s make use of it. Fill two-thirds of it with water. Let the water come to a full boil. For each 1 lb. of asparagus, use 1 gallon of water.
Add Asparagus to Steamer
Put the asparagus in a metal steamer. Next, immerse the basket quickly into the boiling water.
Cover the Pot
Use the tight-fitting list cover to cover the pot properly. Adjust your timer when the water returns to a boil.
Set Timer for Spears
Set your timer with the following for each batch of spears.
- 4 minutes for large spears.
- 3 minutes for medium spears.
- 2 minutes for small spears
Cool Down the Asparagus
Pour ice water in a bowl. As soon as the timer is up, take out the steamer from the pot, and throw the asparagus in the bowl. Wait for the asparagus to cool quickly; you can add more ice to speed up the process. The cooling time for each batch is similar to their respective blanching periods.
Pack the Cooled Asparagus
After your asparagus has cooled off, drain it thoroughly. Pack all of it in an airtight plastic container or resealable freezer bags.
What about Cooked Asparagus? How Long Can It Last?
Cooked asparagus in the fridge cannot last more than five days at max. You can extend its shelf life by blanching it and freezing it. In this way, it will maintain good quality for 10 to 12 months in the freezer. [iv]
What Is with the White Asparagus?
You may have seen the white asparagus in the store. This asparagus is different from the green asparagus in one aspect; it is grown without light. This means that it is devoid of chlorophyll, the component that is responsible for adding the green color in plants. [v]
Hopefully, you were able to follow the above procedure without any hiccups and had your fair share of fun. As someone who loves grilled asparagus year-round, this blanching method has being a life-saver. I will recommend that you adopt this method as well to preserve asparagus for more than 10 months without any worries. Before I forget, here is one of our favorite asparagus recipes if you're raring to get going in the kitchen: Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus.