Are you a fan of tender, crisp, and flavorful asparagus?
Knowing how long this vegetable lasts is always a good idea whether you're a seasoned pro in the kitchen or a beginner cook. After all, there's nothing worse than reaching for that bundle of asparagus only to find that it's already gone bad.
In this post, we'll explore the shelf life of fresh asparagus, how to store it properly, and even share some delicious recipes for you to enjoy.
When Is Asparagus In Season?
Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable and is in season from April to May. In warmer areas such as Southern California, asparagus may be available as early as February whereas in cooler areas it may not be available until later in the season.
Here are 5 tips to prolong the shelf life of asparagus, so it lasts as long as possible.
- Storage Time: Asparagus can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge if stored properly. Refer to Storing Tips for more details.
- Moisture: Asparagus is made up of about 94% water which means that if it isn't kept in a moist or damp environment it can dry out quickly and become dry, tough, and lose its freshness.
- Freezing: Freezing can also help lock in moisture and slow down the growth of bacteria, yeast, or mold that can cause spoilage. Asparagus can be frozen for up to 8 months in the fridge. This will allow you to enjoy this delicious vegetable all year long.
- Ripeness: The level of ripeness also affects its shelf life. Asparagus that is vibrant green with white at the bottom of the stalk are fresh and will last longer in the fridge when stored properly. On the other hand, asparagus appear dull and wilted, and the tips aren't tightly closed, aren’t fresh, and should be avoided.
- Preparation: Before just placing your asparagus in the fridge after bringing it home from the grocery store, be sure to trim off about an inch of the bottom of the stalk before storing them in the fridge. You'll learn all about this in the next section.
How to Store Asparagus
When purchasing fresh raw asparagus from the grocery store, ideally they should be stored upright in a container with about an inch of water to keep them moist and fresh. Steer away from those that are either stored upright without water or laid flat in a dry container.
After you've picked the best bunch, bring it home and store them by following these simple steps if you will not be cooking them the same day:
- Similar to a bouquet of flowers, the bottom of the stems of each asparagus should be cut as these ends are tough and aren't edible.
- Keep them bundled in the rubber band.
- Add the asparagus upright to a jar or '2 cups measuring cup' with the cut ends facing down and add about an inch of cold water.
- Discard the water and replace it with fresh water every day or every other day.
By doing this, your asparagus will stay fresh longer and last for almost 2 weeks. The stems should still feel like firm stalks.
Asparagus freezes well and is another great way to lock in moisture and prolong its shelf life. In fact, they can be stored in the freezer a long time - up to 8 months which will allow you to enjoy this delicate vegetable all year long.
For best results follow this process:
- Blanch the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Immediately submerge in an ice bath
- Place on a plate or baking sheet in a single layer
- Place in freezer until asparagus stalks are frozen
- Then, place in a freezer safe container or ziploc bag until ready to use
Similar to other frozen vegetables, frozen asparagus do not need to be thawed before cooking.
Signs of Spoilage
Asparagus is a delicate vegetable and is VERY important that it's stored properly to prevent spoilage. Here are signs to look out for when asparagus is getting old:
- Asparagus has started to turn a different color such as yellow, brown, or black.
- It looks or feels slimy.
- It smells bad or gives off an unpleasant odor.
- Feels soft or mushy.
- Stalks are wilted and no longer feel firm.
Cooked asparagus can last in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can store them in an air tight container with a tight fitting lid or in a ziploc storage bag.
Absolutely but fresh asparagus should be blanched first before freezing. This process is done by placing asparagus in a pot of boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes then quickly submerging them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. This leaves the asparagus a beautiful vibrant green color.
If you’re looking for delicious ways to cook asparagus, our Roasted Asparagus With Garlic topped with chopped pistachios is a fantastic way to enjoy this vegetable with a slightly nutty flavor and added crunch. Looking for something more comforting and indulgent? Creamy Shrimp Asparagus Pasta is more rich and creamy without the added fat from heavy cream. They're both simple to make and only use minimal ingredients.
If your looking for a simple and refreshing side dish that doesn't require much effort a refreshing asparagus salad will do the trick, or simply drizzle with olive oil, season with kosher salt and red pepper flakes and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. No matter what cooking process you choose, cooked spears should have a crisp texture rather than soft and mushy.