In the middle of the spring and early summer asparagus season, you might end up with an abundance of this wonderful sprout and don’t know what to do with it. Can you freeze asparagus? Yes, you absolutely can!
Freezing asparagus is one of the best ways to preserve it for later, when it’s no longer in season. And since the asparagus season is fairly short, it’s a great way to enjoy this vegetable even longer.
How to Freeze Raw Asparagus
The process of freezing asparagus is very simple. It requires a quick blanch of the vegetables in hot water, then a quick cool off in cold water, then a flash freeze. It can easily be done in just 30 minutes.
The best asparagus to freeze are the fat ones. The larger the spear, the better they will freeze. If the stalk is at least the size of a pencil, you’re good.
Yes, you can still freeze them if they are very thin, but they won’t dethaw quite as well. So, if you’re buying asparagus for the express purpose of freezing it, look for the thicker stalks.
Give the asparagus a good rinse. Then sort the asparagus to make sure the stalks are all about the same size. If there are different sizes, divide them up and blanch them in batches. This is because larger asparagus will take longer to cook and freeze than smaller.
By the way, you don’t have to freeze large amounts of asparagus at one time. I often buy a bundle and don’t think I can use it all before it goes bad, so I’ll freeze only a handful of asparagus at a time.
Cut the ends of the stalks off. I like to snap the end off of the first one to determine where the tender part starts, then I cut all the rest of them to that same length.
You need to make a decision at this stage. Do you want to keep the asparagus in full stalks, or will you likely be using them in chunks? It’s easier to blanch and store asparagus that is chunked up into 1-2 inch pieces, than to keep them in full spears – but it’s entirely up to you.
You can keep the ends if you want to make soup with, but they are generally very tough and fibrous, so you wouldn’t want to keep them for eating or using in a dish.
Fill a large stockpot about 1/3 full and heat the water to boiling. Add the stalks of asparagus (only one group at a time and no more than 1 pound at a time) to the boiling water. It should boil for 1 1/2 minutes. Set a timer.
While the asparagus is blanching, get a large bowl and fill it half way with ice and cold water.
When the time is up, remove the asparagus from the boiling water, either with tongs, or with a slotted spoon, and place it directly into the ice bath. Leave them in the cold water for 1 1/2 minutes. Set a timer!
When the time is up, remove the asparagus from the cold water and allow it to dry on a paper towel or kitchen towel. Once they have dried, you can add them to a zip lock bag and put them in the freezer.
Another way to go is to flash freeze the pieces on a plate or baking sheet that can fit in your freezer. Lay out the pieces on a tray, so they aren’t touching, and put them in the freezer for about an hour. Once they are semi frozen, they can be placed into freezer storage bags. This will help keep them from freezing together in one chunk.
Will the Texture Change?
If you freeze fresh asparagus to use later, it will lose a bit of its wonderful fresh crunch and vibrancy in the process, but if you blanch it correctly, it will still be tasty and full of healthful vitamins and minerals. It won’t have exactly the same texture though. It will be partially cooked already.
How to Use Frozen Asparagus
When you’re ready to use the frozen asparagus, take it out of the freezer. If you’re using it in a casserole or hot dish, you can put the asparagus into the dish while frozen. You can also bake it from frozen. If you’re using it in a cold dish, allow it to come to room temperature before using.
Frozen asparagus is best used in dishes, rather than served as the main ingredient. You won’t be able to make a fresh shaved asparagus salad with it, but you can definitely add it to soups and casseroles, put it in a pasta dish, or add some parmesan cheese and bake it.
How Long Can I Keep Frozen Asparagus?
It’s always wise to label the bags of asparagus you’ve added to the freezer, so you can keep track of how long it’s been in there. Frozen asparagus keeps really well for at least 2-3 months, if frozen in air tight bags. If it’s exposed to the air at all, it will become freezer burnt quickly.
It’s best to use the frozen asparagus within 6 months, for the freshest possible outcome. It will still be good up to 12 months, but you’ll noticed a definitely decline by then.
When your kitchen is overflowing with all that delicious asparagus, you’ll be thankful for this quick freezer method. It’s always nice to have a little asparagus in the winter!
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