Asparagus is one of the first official signs of spring and a promise that more homegrown produce is right on its heels. All winter long we wait for those green spears to show in the garden, but just like that, warm weather hits and the season is over. If you’re getting into June and you still have an abundance of asparagus in the ground, don’t fret. Freezing it means you’ll have asparagus spears available for the whole year to come.
1. Go homegrown
Only bother freezing locally grown asparagus while it’s in season for your area. Asparagus that has been shipped from other states, or even internationally, will almost always be less tender and have less flavor — not a good place to start.
2. Size matters
The spears you select for freezing should be at least as thick as a pencil. Thinner spears don’t hold up very well in the freezing process.
3. the prep step
Bend or snap the woody end off of each spear. (Rule of thumb for freezing most fruits and veggies: If you don’t want to eat it later, you need to remove it before blanching and freezing.) Asparagus grows low to the ground, so you’re likely to have some dirt clinging to the spears. Give them a good rinse. Then, think about how you are likely to use your asparagus in the future, and either leave the spears as-is, or chop them into 1- or 2-inch pieces.
4. Blanch for best results
Have a big bowl of ice water ready to help stop the asparagus from cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 pound of asparagus at a time to the boiling water, and let blanch for 2-4 minutes (depending on the thickness of the spears). Then, quickly drain the pot and transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. Leave to cool for 4 minutes. Drain from the ice bath, and pat dry.
Option 1.) The easiest way to freeze asparagus is to put all the spears or pieces in a freezer bag or container and label with a date before storing in the freezer. Pieces will likely freeze together, so if you go this route, make sure you’ll be ready to use it all at the same time.
Option 2.) If you want to be able to take out just a few spears at a time, you should freeze them before introducing. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place asparagus spears or pieces in a single layer on sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours, then transfer contents to a freezer bag. Date and label the bag before storing in freezer.
How long can I keep asparagus?
It’s recommended that you use asparagus within 12 months of freezing it. But really if you use it after that date, it will still be edible, but the quality might start to deteriorate.