We love it in tarts, served with a side of eggs and thrown on top of pizza (yes, really), but sometimes our affinity for asparagus can cause us to grab too many bunches at the market or grocery store. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, don’t sweat it. Savor the flavor of all that seasonal goodness by adding them to your freezer.
Freezing asparagus is easy—all you need to do is blanch the spears first and then store them properly. With just a few simple steps, you’ll always have delicious produce on hand that can be tossed into soups, casseroles, quiches, sauces and dips. But one thing to keep in mind is that while freezing will retain all that wonderful flavor, the texture might be a little softer than what you’re used to. In other words, the frozen stuff won’t have the same snap as fresh stems. So you know, maybe don’t use them in a crunchy salad. But in anything cooked? Definitely. Here’s how to freeze asparagus in five easy steps.
Step 1: Wash and trim the asparagus
First, rinse the stems in cold water and sort them by size (since thicker spears will require longer blanching time). Next, trim the stalks. The easiest way to do this is to line all the spears in a row and slice off the ends all at once. You want to cut where the stalks turn from white to green. (You can also hold both ends of the spear and bend it until it snaps, although you may waste some of the vegetables this way.)
Step 2: Quickly boil the spears
To prevent discoloration and help maintain texture, blanch the asparagus according to size before freezing. What’s blanching? It’s a cooking technique where vegetables are briefly boiled and then plunged into ice water. To do it, first bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl filled with ice and cold water. For small spears (about the thickness of a pencil), blanch them for two minutes. For medium spears, blanch for three minutes. And for larger spears (approximately half an inch in diameter), blanch for four minutes. Start the kitchen timer after you’ve carefully dropped the asparagus into the pot and the water has returned to a boil. (For what it’s worth, thicker spears tend to do better in the freezer.)
Step 3: Cool the asparagus down
Now for the second part of the blanching process. After the spears have boiled for the required amount of time, plunge the asparagus immediately into the bowl filled with ice water—this will stop them from continuing to cook in the residual heat. Keep the spears in the bowl for as long as they were in the pot of water (i.e., two, three or four minutes). Drain the asparagus thoroughly.
Step 4: Store your veggies
Blot the spears dry quickly and place them in the freezer. To minimize mushiness, you’ll want to do this step quickly. You can either freeze the spears individually or in a package. To freeze individually, arrange the spears on a cookie sheet. After they’re frozen, place the spears in freezer bags in bulk, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. To bulk freeze, simply place the spears in freezer bags (again, removing as much air as you can). Try to keep the spears in a single layer (you don’t want to overpack the bags).
Step 5: Enjoy delicious asparagus straight from the freezer whenever you want
And that’s it. Use your frozen asparagus in myriad recipes (there’s no need to defrost the spears since they’ll cook so quickly) within eight to 12 months for the best results.