Asparagus is a spring vegetable that is harvested from late April to June. It can be relatively expensive when it’s off-season. So, when fresh asparagus hits the market, it’s time to indulge in this delicacy. Can I buy more and preserve for future use?
Perhaps, you just went foraging wild asparagus and came back with buckets of the good stuff. Like most fresh produce, asparagus only stays fresh for several days in the fridge. Can you freeze asparagus for later?
Without a doubt, yes, you can freeze asparagus! Freezing seasonal produce is the easiest preservation method you can do at home.
In this article, we share the nitty-gritty of freezing asparagus, using frozen asparagus, and everything in between. So, keep reading!
The Best Way to Freeze Asparagus
Before we go further to the practical details of freezing asparagus, it is worth mentioning that raw vegetables don’t freeze very well—asparagus is one of them.
Raw vegetables contain enzymes that cause loss of flavor, color, and texture. You need to at least cook or blanch raw asparagus to inactivate these enzymes for long term storage. (*)
Perhaps, you’re asking whether you can freeze asparagus without blanching? Blanching is highly recommended before freezing raw vegetables. Without blanching, frozen asparagus won’t preserve its flavor and color and lose its texture during freezing.
Check this step-by-step guide on how to freeze fresh asparagus. (*)
1. Selecting the asparagus
If you forage wild asparagus, pick before the buds start to open. Otherwise, the spears turn woody and tough.
Choose only young, tender spears to freeze. The spears should be fresh, green, and firm.
2. Washing, sorting, and chopping asparagus
Wash each spear under running water. Get rid of any dirt, sand, and other particles.
Trim the bottom end of each spear that is woody and tough.
Next, you can chop the spears into 2 to 3 pieces or freeze as whole spears.
Sort the asparagus spears into three groups—small, medium, and large. Different sizes require a certain amount of blanching time. Skip this step if the stalks come in a uniform size.
3. Blanching the asparagus
Blanching is a crucial step in freezing vegetables. Improper blanching may ruin the vegetables during freezing.
Prepare one pot filled with water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, prepare another pot (or bowl) filled with ice and cold water.
When the water is boiling, place the chopped spears into the pot. Boil small stalks for 2 minutes, while the medium and large ones need 3 and 4 minutes, respectively.
Instead of boiling the asparagus, you can also steam them. Steaming takes 1 ½ time longer than water blanching. (*)
Use a timer to measure the time precisely and prevent under- or overcooking.
Next, remove the boiled asparagus and transfer it to the icy bath. Let them cool promptly for 3 to 4 minutes.
Drain the blanched asparagus in a colander and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Make sure they are thoroughly dry to prevent ice crystals from forming during freezing.
4. Flash freezing
Spread the prepped asparagus stalks on a baking sheet. Place them in the freezer for a couple of hours.
This step is optional but useful to prevent the stalks from sticking together when frozen. Proceed to the next step if you want to skip this one.
5. Freezing for long term
Pack the (frozen) stalks in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag. Spread them evenly. If possible, pack an individual serving size.
Squeeze as much air as possible from the freezer bag and seal it tightly.
Label the bag with a freezing date and place it in the freezer for long term storage.
Frozen foods should be maintained at 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower. Make sure to check your freezer’s temperature and set it to 0 °F.
How To Cook Frozen Asparagus
You can use frozen asparagus similarly to fresh ones. In fact, they are convenient because the prepping steps were already done before freezing.
You don’t need to defrost frozen asparagus before cooking. You can just use it while frozen.
Asparagus can be cooked in plenty of different ways, either as appetizers or side dishes. Here are some ideas to use frozen asparagus into something delicious:
– steam and serve with boiled eggs
– stir-fry added with chicken or meat
– creamy asparagus soup
– vegetable soup
– sauté or pan-seared
– lemon roasted asparagus
– use in pasta and casseroles
– ham-wrapped asparagus
– add to frittata and quiche
How Long Can You Freeze Asparagus?
If adequately prepared and frozen, asparagus preserves its quality for 8 to 12 months after freezing. After that, the frozen asparagus may remain safe to use, but with lower quality. (*)
Raw asparagus lasts for a week in the fridge, while cooked asparagus can stay for 3 to 5 days. Store them in a sealed airtight container.
If we’re talking about its freshness. Frozen asparagus won’t be as crisp as fresh ones. But, frozen asparagus tastes as delicious when cooked into many other dishes.
You can freeze any dishes prepared with asparagus, such as asparagus soup or roasted asparagus. The procedure is similar to other leftover dishes. Transfer cooked asparagus into a freezer-safe container. Leave a headspace to allow for expansion and seal it tightly. Label the container with a freezing date and place it in the freezer.
Freezing asparagus is an awesome trick to keep this delicacy all year round. When fresh asparagus hits the market, buy in bulk and freeze.
Don’t forget to blanch the asparagus before freezing. Blanching helps to preserve the color, texture, and flavor during freezing. If prepared and packed properly, frozen asparagus retains its quality up to a year!
Up next: How to freeze sweet potatoes