The Best Way to Freeze Asparagus
Save that spring bounty!
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By Susan Choung for Food Network Kitchen
Asparagus has a very short season — it's gone faster than your family during clean-up time. The juicy green stalks also don't last long in the fridge, so if you can't eat your bundles of asparagus right away, consider freezing them. If possible, choose thicker spears for freezing; they'll hold up better to the low temps than the pencil-thin ones. No matter the size, follow these simple steps to get these noble vegetables ready for the ice box:
Wash the Asparagus
Sort through the asparagus and toss any spears that have gone soft, gotten soggy or shriveled. They won't make for good eating fresh, and will be even less appealing when thawed from frozen. Rinse the remaining spears in a colander under cold running water.
Trim the Woody Ends
Have you ever nibbled down to the stem end of an asparagus spear only to have it lodge in your teeth like an unwelcome house guest? Then you know what a dental nightmare untrimmed asparagus can be. An easy way to trim is to bend the end of a raw spear and snap off the white woody nub at its natural breaking point. Another way — one that keeps more of the edible spear intact — is to cut off about an inch from the bottoms then shave away the fibrous skin with a vegetable peeler. Either method will work for freezing. Just be sure to freeze your trimmings separately to make asparagus soup later. #spoileralert
Blanch the Spears
This step seems finnicky, but the frozen asparagus will look and taste so much better if you boil them briefly then shock them in ice water. Just do the following:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, combine set aside a large bowl of ice water.
- If your asparagus spears vary in thickness, boil the thickest ones first, just until they turn bright green, about 4 minutes. Boil medium spears for about 3 minutes, then thinner ones for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the asparagus from the water with tongs or a mesh spider and plunge into the prepared ice bath, just until cooled.
- Drain and pat completely dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Freeze the Asparagus
Cut the dried asparagus into 1- to 2-inch pieces, depending on how you plan to cook them afterward. If you want to get fancy, cut the spears on a diagonal. Transfer the asparagus to freezer bags and label them with the date. Don't overcrowd the bags — these are delicate vegetables, not items in carry-on luggage. You want to keep the pieces in a single layer so they'll freeze quickly and last for up to 8 months.
How to Cook Frozen Asparagus
As with most vegetables, asparagus will lose some its crispness in the freezer, so make their final destination a dish that will cook them down to a tender texture. Try frozen asparagus in a hot or chilled soup, risotto, pasta sauce or casserole. Fortunately, you can cook the asparagus from frozen, so no need to thaw it first. Spring and its bounty may be fleeting, but with the right prep, frozen food is (almost) forever.
Recipes to Try: