While vegetables tend to get a lot of flack for not being the favorite foods of most people, a lot of people include a fair amount of vegetables in their diets and regular meals. After all, good vegetables can add a fair amount of flavor and texture to your dishes, especially when they are cooked properly. When you consider just how many different vegetables there are in the world, you can generally expect that there is going to be a vegetable for just about any meal out there.
One of the most common vegetables that does not get nearly as much attention as it should is asparagus. Asparagus is a favorite vegetable of people all across the country, but there are many problems that come along with it. For instance, asparagus is one of the most perishable vegetables out there, so even during the in-season, it can be hard to find what you need, not to mention trying to find it outside of the harvest season.
Asparagus generally has a peak that lasts a few weeks in stores, and during this time, you may find that you want to stock up on asparagus stalks and whole plants so that you can eat them throughout the year. Given that they tend to perish quite quickly, you may not know the best way to preserve them. Of course, they should be stored somewhere colder, as all produce should, but the question is where.
Many people choose to store their asparagus in the freezer, but you cannot just put the unprotected stalks in the freezer and expect them to last for more than a few days. Because of the water content in asparagus, freezing it without the proper preparation will cause the color, flavor, and texture of the asparagus to dull, rendering the vegetable not nearly as delicious as it should be.
If you are planning on storing and keeping some asparagus throughout the year, you are going to need to learn how to properly preserve it. It is highly recommended that you blanch asparagus before storing, but not everyone has the time or patience to blanch their produce.
If you fall into this category, you don’t have too much to worry about as there are still ways that you can effectively freeze your asparagus and have them last for more time than they would if they were in the fridge.
Preparing the Asparagus
Before you can go about freezing the asparagus, you are going to want to prepare it first. When you are working with foods that are as perishable as asparagus, you are going to want to make sure that you work quickly so that you can get the most time out of them as you can. If you are not going to blanch the asparagus, you can skip several steps in the freezing process, though you should be aware that there is a higher chance that the quality of your asparagus will degrade.
Once you are ready to prepare the asparagus, you will want to first cut off the ends of the asparagus that you will not eat. These can go into compost or tossed in the trash as you desire. From here, you will want to begin washing the stems and stalks of the asparagus, as you aren’t going to want to freeze any dirt or grime with the asparagus.
Freezing the Asparagus
Next, you will want to address the problem that most asparagus has when you introduce it to the freezer. Asparagus has a naturally high water content, and when it goes into the freezer, this can damage the plant itself. The best way to combat this is to do what you can to drain out the asparagus.
It should go without saying that the goal of this is not necessarily to completely dehydrate the asparagus, as you are going to want to keep the stalks as usable as possible for when you are ready to take it out of the freezer. However, it is going to go a long, long way in terms of preservability if you can remove any and all excess moisture from the asparagus.
This includes draining the asparagus over the sink, which can take a little bit of time. You shouldn’t spend too much time on this, as asparagus needs to be chilled to remain in the freshest condition. You can also try and dry the asparagus out yourself, although if you aren’t entirely sure how, it might be better just to take your chances and see how long your asparagus can last in the freezer.
You will next want to get a vacuum-sealable bag for your asparagus. If you are planning on steaming the asparagus or cooking them sous vide, this is also the step where you would introduce seasonings into the bag as well. You will want to make sure that the vacuum bag you are getting is completely sealable, as the goal of this is to prevent as much of the moisture in the asparagus from becoming affected by the freezer as possible.
Once all of the asparagus is in the bag and any additional seasonings you wanted to add have been included, you can begin to vacuum seal the bag. Many sealers for food vacuum bags are easy to use, allowing you to easily remove the excess air from the bag. If you are unable to access a vacuum sealer, you will simply want to do whatever you can to remove any and all excess air from the bag.
Finally, you will be ready to place your asparagus in the freezer. Without blanching the asparagus, you can expect it to last a couple months in the freezer before becoming completely unusable due to the changes in texture and taste.
How Can You Heat Them up Again?
Once you are ready to make use of the asparagus, you are going to want to make sure that you open the package properly so as not to damage the asparagus. One thing you will need to keep in mind is that if the asparagus is closer to a dull green or even a gray color, you are going to want to cut your losses and toss it. When asparagus reaches this color, it is a sign that it has been heavily affected by the conditions of the freezer and is no longer of the same taste or texture as it used to be.
Putting that aside, when you are ready to cook the asparagus, the first thing you will want to do is puncture a hole in the bag the asparagus is in. This will help to slowly introduce air into the bag, which will ultimately make it easier to remove the asparagus from the bag when you are ready to heat them up. If you don’t have a recipe in mind that you can use the asparagus with, there is another thing that you can try.
This will work especially well if you have already seasoned the asparagus. Once you are ready to eat, you will want to pour the asparagus (and seasoning) into a bowl that is microwaveable safe. From here, you will want to put the asparagus in the microwave for approximately six minutes, although the exact duration will depend on the wattage of the microwave. After the microwave is done with the asparagus, you will have freshly steamed and seasoned asparagus to consume.