There’s nothing better than yummy spring vegetables for dinner. But after four days, fresh asparagus and other veggies must go into storage. Learn how to preserve asparagus a few different smart ways, and you’ll have asparagus well after prices skyrocket in grocery stores.
Asparagus is an ideal veggie to preserve. It’s full of health benefits, such as essential nutrients, fiber, vitamins K, C, A, E, and even B6. These benefits extend to the urinary tract, preventing painful infections.
The green veggie also is a diuretic and antioxidant, so it helps people lose weight and continue to promote ideal health. If you love asparagus, growing and preserving your own is our favorite way to take advantage of veggies all year round.
Asparagus is a natural spring crop to extend into the winter season. We’ll show you how to start preserving asparagus and give you a few recipes to try.
- Equipment for Preserving Asparagus
- How to Preserve Asparagus: Prep Work
- Smart Ways to Preserve Asparagus
- Favorite Way to Cook Asparagus
Equipment for Preserving Asparagus
If you are ready to preserve asparagus or are looking at preserving cauliflower or other vegetables, collect a few things to have ready.
How to Preserve Asparagus: Prep Work
To prepare for preserving asparagus, look for young and tender spears during the season. Asparagus grows all year long, but spring is the best time of year to harvest crops – between February and June is common. You can even grow your own asparagus, as it is not difficult.
When does asparagus go bad? You can tell if asparagus has spoiled if it smells funny, is wrinkly, slimy, or moldy. Toss these pieces or add them to the compost bin.
Wash the Veggies
After you have looked over your asparagus and learned how to tell if asparagus is bad or safe for preserving, start by washing asparagus in a large bowl of cold water. Swish the veggies around, making sure to remove sand and debris from the tips.
Cut Uniform Pieces
Sort the asparagus pieces by size, then cut the large spears into one-inch pieces. Small spears can stay whole.
Preserve by Size
Whether you plan to blanch or freeze asparagus immediately, preserve the veggies based on size to know how long your technique takes. Group them into large, medium, or small spears.
The small spears may only take two minutes to blanch, for example, while medium spears take around three minutes. Large spears take four to five minutes to blanch, according to the University of Georgia.
Smart Ways to Preserve Asparagus
There are almost as many smart ways out there for how to preserve asparagus as there are asparagus varieties. We’ll show you the best ways to preserve asparagus and our favorite ways to use the preserves later.
Blanching and Freezing Asparagus
Use the blanch and freeze process if you keep asparagus in the freezer for a year or more. The best way to freeze asparagus involves blanching the vegetable first to get rid of bacteria, just like the procedure for preserving green beans. Otherwise, the color and texture of the vegetable may change over time.
To blanch asparagus, bend each asparagus spear until the end snaps. Set them in a blanching basket or large pot over boiling water, saving the ends to make soup or discarding them.
Blanching time varies, but it typically takes around two to five minutes for medium spears. Move to an ice bath next. Add a gallon of ice water and around a pound of asparagus to a large bowl.
Leave the veggies in the ice water to cool for the same amount of time blanching took. Drain the water, then store asparagus in freezer bags.
Flash Freezing Asparagus without Blanching
Some people don’t recommend skipping the blanching step, but you can also flash freeze the veggies. Freezing asparagus is ideal over canning, which sometimes shows mushy results.
This approach is excellent if you’re making asparagus soup within three months. If you plan to freeze asparagus without blanching, cut the spears into one-inch pieces. Use thick asparagus, or grow this spring vegetable at home for the best results.
Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer, freezing them for two hours before transferring them to freezer bags. Grab as many loose pieces of asparagus as needed. They won’t stick together unless you freeze the small spears together from the start.
When you are preserving ginger root in the freezer, there is no need to wash it first or blanch it – just add to a zipper-seal bag and let out as much air as possible.
Making Pickled Asparagus
Canning asparagus at home or pickling asparagus is a smart way to preserve asparagus. Canned asparagus can last for years, while this pickling recipe keeps in the refrigerator for up to 30 days. Eat the pickled asparagus as a snack or side.
For this method, cut asparagus into one-inch pieces. Pack the spears into clean canning jars vertically. Head to the stovetop, combining vinegar with water, canning salt, sugar, pickling spice, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
Add more red pepper flakes for spice. Boil the mixture for five minutes. Split the hot brine and spices evenly among the jars, using a ladle to spoon the liquid ½ inch from the top of each canning jar.
Allow them to process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Seal the jars and let them cool. Use this way to store asparagus in the fridge for a delicious snack to eat any time.
Saving Ends for Asparagus Stock
During the last week before your fresh asparagus turns, make asparagus stock from spears or use the leftover ends from any of the above options. Stock is excellent in soups, meals with eggs, or as a fresh asparagus substitute.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, bringing the mixture to a boil. Skim off the impurities you see on the top. Turn to low heat, covering the pan with a lid. Simmer for at least an hour.
Strain the liquid into a canning jar and allow it to cool. Store the stock for up to two weeks in the fridge or six months in the freezer.
Favorite Way to Cook Asparagus
Our favorite way to cook asparagus for dinner is to make a casserole. Fresh asparagus is preferred, but this asparagus recipe is easy to modify.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and add the asparagus bundle to a large pot of boiling water, keeping it bundled together to cook for a few minutes. Lift the bundles from the water, cut off the tough ends, and drop the crunchy pieces back into the water.
Bring the heat to a simmer. Run the trimmed asparagus tops under cold water, which stops the cooking. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, and then whisk in the milk. Salt to taste. Five minutes later, add the grated cheese and stir to melt for a minute.
Grab your 9-by-12-inch baking dish and arrange the asparagus pieces on the bottom. Slice the eggs and arrange them on top. Pour on the cheese sauce and sprinkle cracker crumbs on top. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until lightly brown.
What are your favorite asparagus recipes? Do they use fresh, canned, or frozen asparagus? We find frozen bundles are better in a soup, while fresh asparagus tastes good in a casserole.
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