Asparagus has a short season, the harvest time lasts for only 10 weeks. Asparagus can be available all year round in stores, but most of them are imported and might taste bland.
So, if you have a load of fresh asparagus on hand, you would love to preserve them. But, how do you go about it?
Can you freeze asparagus? Yes, you can. You can freeze asparagus and prolong the shelf life for 6 to 8 months. Freezing is way better when compared to canning because you get to keep your color and have less mushy asparagus spears.
On the downside, frozen asparagus will not keep that crisp and crunchy texture that you love in fresh asparagus. The water molecules in the asparagus cells expand as they freeze, bursting the cell wall.
Upon thawing, the frozen asparagus would not be as firm as it was before undergoing freezing. But, you still get to keep the distinct taste and flavor that asparagus brings to dishes.
How to Freeze Asparagus
Freezing asparagus is easy. But, you need to parboil them, to prevent them from ripening as they freeze. This helps you keep the color, and most importantly, nutrients and flavor. As we carry out the freezing process, there are important tips that if taken into account, would help reduce the mushy texture of the asparagus upon thawing.
Step 1: Selecting
You might be wondering, why do I have to select? Why not freeze the whole bunch? Thicker stems of asparagus freeze better. So, when you have a bunch of asparagus that you intend to freeze. Only freeze asparagus with stems that are pencil size thick and firm to touch.
Step 2: Cutting and Washing the Asparagus
Line the asparagus so you can cut off the ends at once. Cut the ends from where the tips start to turn from white to green. This is necessary because, when your asparagus begins to go bad, it starts with the tips.
Cut the asparagus spears into 1 to 2-inch sizes. Wash the spears thoroughly, under running water, and drain in a colander.
Step 3: Sorting by Sizes
When you want to blanch asparagus, the blanching time is determined by size. So if the sizes of your asparagus are not so even, the bigger pieces might not blanch well, or the smaller pieces will get cooked. You can sort the spears into two categories, small and large.
Step 4: Blanching
Blanching is a process used to stop the enzymatic processes that make fruits and legumes ripen after being plucked from their stems. Blanching helps asparagus retain its nutrients and flavor. It also helps to maintain its aesthetics. Greens tend to blacken as they freeze, but blanching helps to prevent this.
Put a pan of water on the fire to boil, and get a colander that can fit into that pan of water. You need to be able to bring the asparagus out of the hot water as fast as possible. You blanch asparagus in two ways, by boiling or steaming. But, boiling is easier and faster.
While you wait for the water to boil, prepare a cold bath. Put chunks of cold water into a bowl of cool water. Boil your asparagus in the batches and boil according to size. 3 minutes for the small sizes and 5 minutes for the large ones.
After boiling for the allotted time, remove the colander with the asparagus in it and immediately transfer them into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wait for the asparagus to cool, drain the water.
Step 5: Storage
To reduce the mushy texture that is inevitable upon freezing. Time is a very important factor. So, you can’t afford to waste time dilly-dallying before packing. Pack the spears into airtight freezer bags or Ziploc bags. Take care to not allow them to bunch together.
Press the bags flat to expel all the air and keep the sticks straight and in a single layer.
Step 6: Freezing
Label the bags with the date of the freeze and the contents of the bag before putting it in the freezer to freeze. Freeze the bags separately with enough air around each one so that it would freeze solid before you stack them in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Asparagus
Asparagus can be used in dishes without thawing them. To thaw asparagus, you can leave the packs in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. You might not be able to snack on them, but, for the most part, frozen asparagus is almost as good as fresh.
How to Recognize Spoiled Asparagus
Like I said earlier, the tips are the first to go bad. The best way to recognize spoiled asparagus is to look at the tips, if the color has changed into black or dark green, check for the texture of the tip. If it is mushy then, you must discard it.
Spoiled asparagus is characterized by darkened and mushy tips. It is unhealthy and unsafe to consume spoiled food items
Does Asparagus Make You Gassy?
Yes, asparagus can make you gassy. Asparagus like beans contains the complex sugar, raffinose. It is known to cause excess farting. But, asparagus is a very healthy food, so eliminating them from your diet might not be a great idea.