Asparagus is a versatile and delicious vegetable. Even better, it comes chock full of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that we all need in our lives. Despite being a spring vegetable, it is used throughout the year in a variety of dishes.
Being able to store asparagus effectively is important to proper use and cooking. In the fridge, fresh asparagus will expire after about a week. If it has been cooked already, it can go bad in anywhere from 3-5 days. In the freezer, however, you can generally get anywhere between 10 and 12 months out of your asparagus.
Table of Contents
- How Long Will Fresh Asparagus Keep in the Fridge?
- How Long Will Cooked or Roasted Asparagus Keep in the Fridge?
- Storing Asparagus in the Freezer
- How to Blanch Asparagus
- Is Frozen Asparagus as Good as Fresh?
- Consider Vacuum Freezing
- How Can You Tell if Asparagus Has Gone Bad?
How Long Will Fresh Asparagus Keep in the Fridge?
The length that asparagus will stay fresh depends on how it is stored. When stored properly, the asparagus – fresh and not yet prepared – will keep for about a week in the fridge. There are a few steps that you can take to properly store it.
- Trim the stems. Before you can properly store the asparagus, they need to be prepared in the right way. Start by trimming the stems off.
- Put them in water. Much the same as you would with a vase of flowers, put the asparagus upright in a glass or jar filled with water. Cutting the stems ensures that the remainder of the asparagus stays firm and fresh.
- Cover with a plastic bag. Before placing the container in the fridge, cover the rest of the asparagus with a plastic bag. The plastic will keep the asparagus fresh, which is most important. The other thing about using a plastic bag is that it will keep the asparagus from absorbing any of the other smells in the fridge.
How Long Will Cooked or Roasted Asparagus Keep in the Fridge?
When it comes to asparagus that has already been prepared, the results won’t be quite the same. It is highly recommended that you use that cooked or roasted asparagus sooner rather than later. The longer that asparagus is stored in the fridge, the softer it will become.
Should you choose to store asparagus in the fridge after preparation, it should be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil or placed in an airtight plastic bag. If properly contained, cooked or roasted asparagus should keep in the fridge for anywhere from 3-5 days.
Storing Asparagus in the Freezer
For long-term storage, the best option is always to store food items in the freezer. When stored properly, frozen food can keep for months or even years depending on what you’re trying to keep stored.
Just like storing food in the fridge, there are steps that need to be taken to properly prepare the asparagus. Follow these steps and you’ll have properly stored asparagus ready for you whenever you choose.
How to Store Asparagus in the Freezer
The good news is that it is relatively easy to store asparagus in the freezer. The key is to reduce the amount of moisture within so that they won’t get soggy.
- Thicker stems. The best asparagus for keeping long-term are the ones with thicker stems. The thick stems should have no brown coloring; browning means that they are already starting to go bad. Additionally, thicker stems will keep sturdy even after the freezing has taken place.
- Boil the asparagus. Before starting the freezing, boil the trimmed asparagus first. As soon as it begins to boil, remove and place int ice water to chill it. The water will stop the cooking process, making it easier to flash freeze the asparagus when it is ready.
- After freezing. When the asparagus has been completely frozen, put it into a freezer bag. Make sure that all of the air has been pushed out; you can use a different plastic container if you’d like.
If, after cooking, you find that you have leftover asparagus, the best choice is to freeze them unless you plan to use them again within a few days. Should you go for the frozen route with prepared asparagus, make sure that it is in an airtight container or in a plastic freezer bag.
How to Blanch Asparagus
If you’ve never done so, blanching something can seem really complicated. But it is actually a quite easy way to flash boil something and prepare it for storage or a different cooking method. In this instance, blanching is used to prepare the asparagus for frozen storage.
- Boil. To start off, bring a large pan to a slow boil. It is a good idea to salt the water as the salt will provide flavor and help to reduce the amount of moisture trapped within. You want just enough that the asparagus maintains integrity without becoming soggy or flimsy.
- Add the asparagus. Don’t just throw the asparagus in. Lower it in carefully so that the boiling water does not spill, potentially causing injury.
- Let it cook. Depending on the thickness of the asparagus stems, let them boil for anywhere from 2-4 minutes. It isn’t an exact science, but the longer that you keep them in the water the softer and potentially soggier that they will get.
- Ice Water Bath. When the time has expired, use a pair of tongs to immediately remove them from the hot water, dropping them into ice water. Allow them to sit in the ice water for 5 minutes; this process shocks the asparagus and stops the cooking process. It is all too easy for asparagus to overcook in the boiling water if you aren’t careful.
- Drain. Finally, lay out the asparagus on some kitchen paper or paper towels. Letting the drain allows the excess moisture to seep out onto the kitchen paper, making the freezing process more consistent.
Can You Freeze Asparagus Without Blanching It First?
In the steps above, we see that blanching the asparagus before freezing it is the best way to preserve both the texture and the color. When properly prepared, asparagus should hold its flavor, consistency, and color for up to a year.
If you choose not to blanch the asparagus, it will hold but there will be caveats. Without blanching it, frozen asparagus will have a duller flavor and color as it would otherwise. Not only that, it won’t keep that crisp texture that can make asparagus so great.
Is Frozen Asparagus as Good as Fresh?
Storing foods over a long period of time makes sense. After all, getting to fresh ingredients is sometimes more complicated than we think. The last thing that we want is to buy fresh ingredients only to have to toss them out after a few unused days.
Freezing asparagus makes sense for just this reason. You likely won’t be able to snack on frozen asparagus in the same way you would fresh asparagus. Frozen asparagus, however, should be fine to incorporate into most kinds of dishes.
Though it may not have the same fresh texture and flavor, you can add in some lemon juice. Lemon juice will give the asparagus a pop of brightness and freshness. Or you could choose to puree the asparagus which would render the texture unimportant.
Consider Vacuum Freezing
Vacuum freezing is meant to improve the way that you store food. The biggest issue facing food during the storage and freezing process is air and moisture. Even if you think that you have eliminated both, doing so by hand is rarely foolproof.
When you use a vacuum sealer, it gets rid of the oxygen within and prevents oxygen from getting back into the bag. Vacuum seal your vegetables and fruits before freezing them to slow the respiration process. This is what will keep your foods frozen safely for longer periods of time.
How Can You Tell if Asparagus Has Gone Bad?
Even if you have taken the proper measures to store your asparagus, there is the possibility that it can go bad. Having the telltale signs of asparagus on its way out can save you from a nasty surprise when you go to use it again.
One of the most obvious signs that your asparagus has gone bad is when it gets to feel mushy in texture. To check the firmness of your asparagus, hold the stems gently between your fingers, applying pressure lightly. If they squish easily, the asparagus has gone bad and should be thrown out immediately.
Asparagus, when it is fine and healthy, will be green in the stem. When the asparagus starts to spoil and go bad, they will turn brown in color. Asparagus, when it isn’t healthy, will start to lose its straightness and firmness. When it starts to turn bendy in shape, you can almost guarantee that the asparagus has gone bad and should pitch it immediately.
Another visual indication is mold growth. Should you notice any food with mold growth on it, throw it out immediately. Moldy food is unsafe to eat.
Asparagus in particular will give off a disgusting smell when it starts to lose its freshness. Give the vegetable a good, strong smell when you remove it from the fridge or freezer, and you should have the information that you need to know whether it is good or bad.