How to Preserve Asparagus

Follow these 3 easy ways to preserve asparagus at home to enjoy this nutritious spring vegetable all year round.

You may have an asparagus patch on your property or you may get asparagus seasonally from local growers. Either way, this delicious spring green is worth trying to put away for use year round. There are 3 ways that you can store asparagus for the long haul at home. Use one or all three ways to preserve asparagus. Some of them lend a totally unique taste or lend to a better use in a specific recipe. Any way you do it, you’ll be glad that you did.

Space asparagus spears out in one layer on a cookie sheet to freeze before putting in freezer storage bag or container.

Freezing

The first way to store asparagus for use later is freezing it. This is very simple and only takes a couple of steps.

  1. Wash and Trim. You’ll want to wash your asparagus to get any residual dirt off and snap or trim your spears at their breaking point. The bottom most part of the spear will be tougher and is not enjoyable or tender to eat. If you hold the spear ends in either of your hands and try to snap it in half, it will have a breaking point. I like to barley work my way up from the tough end to find the natural breaking point. You can also just kind of guess and cut it with a knife.
  2. Blanch. You will need to flash boil them, which is a technique called blanching. This is going to help hold that bright green color but also par cooks the asparagus which in turn helps with the plant cells not bursting in the freezer and making a mushy vegetable after freezing. You’ll want to bring water in a large pot to a boil and then throw 1 lb of your spears in for 2-5 minutes depending on how thick they are. The goal is not to totally cook them but to par cook them.
  3. Dry. Use tongs to get your spears out gently and place them on a kitchen towel to dry a bit. I usually fold the towel over on them to get moisture off the top. Be careful and mind that they will be hot.
  4. Freeze. You’ll want to place spears in a single layer on a baking sheet not touching and place them in your freezer until frozen. This will keep them from sticking together and allow you to grab out single spears out of your freezer for meals instead of having to unthaw one big clump.
  5. Airtight Storage. Your best bet when freezing is the less air around the food the better. The less air, the more time it will last in the freezer without ice forming on it and freezer taste setting in. If you have a vacuum sealer then feel free to package amounts that you would use for meals. If using freezer zip bags then just make sure you roll or squeeze out all the air that you can before you zip it closed. You can also use reusable freezer proof plastic storage containers if you have cut your asparagus in pieces. Just make sure to fill it full so that you have the least amount of air as possible.

Dehydrating

So maybe you don’t have a ton of freezer space to store extra veggies and need a way for these veg to be a little more shelf stable and not need to take up space in an appliance. No problem. It’s not the most go to method for preserving asparagus but it does work nicely for many dishes and can save you that much needed freezer room.

  1. Wash and Trim. You’ll want to wash your asparagus to get any residual dirt off and snap or trim your spears at their breaking point. The bottom most part of the spear will be tougher and is not enjoyable or tender to eat. It can however with this preserving method still be used to grind to powder to use in thickening soups. If you hold the spear ends in either of your hands and try to snap it in half, it will have a breaking point. I like to barley work my way up from the tough end to find the natural breaking point. You can also just kind of guess and cut it with a knife.
  2. Blanch. You will need to flash boil them, which is a technique called blanching. This is going to help hold that bright green color but also par cooks the asparagus which in turn helps with keeping the drying asparagus from turning brown in the dehydrator. You’ll want to bring water in a large pot to a boil and then throw 1 lb of 1 inch cut spears in for 2-5 minutes depending on how thick they are. The goal is not to totally cook them but to par cook them.
  3. Dry. Use tongs to get your spears out gently and place them on a kitchen towel to dry a bit. I usually fold the towel over on them to get moisture off the top. Be careful and mind that they will be hot.
  4. Dehydrate. Lay out your asparagus in one layer close to each other on your dehydrators trays. Place them in your machine and dehydrate at 125 F any where from 6-14 hours depending on thickness. The heads will dry quicker than the thicker stalks. So check it and make sure that your pieces are crisp and don’t have any moisture in the middle when cut in half.
  5. Store. When completely dry, place your dehydrated asparagus in an airtight container and label it. Mason jars with a lid work great as well as other tightly closed containers. Put the “tough ends” that you went ahead and dehydrated too in a food processor or blender. Whirl them until pulverized to a powder. Store this in an airtight container as well and label. Store jars in cool dark place. Check for moisture over the next week or two to make sure that all your pieces were dry enough and no mold forms. You can shake the jar here and there over that time to make sure you have equal humidity throughout the jar.

To use your dehydrated asparagus pieces you’ll need to rehydrate them by covering with boiling water and letting them sit for 15-20 minutes. Drain off any extra water, which can be used in your recipe if needed, and use your hydrated asparagus in any recipe that calls for cooked asparagus. This could be scrambled eggs, casseroles, soups, etc. If you are pressure cooking soup or stew with your asparagus in it go ahead and put it in dry as it will plump fine in the pressure cooker.

Use your asparagus powder in sauces and soups to add that fresh asparagus flavor and to also take advantage of its thickening ability. You can also add it to green smoothies for some nutritional boost. Experiment at will!

Pickled asparagus wrapped in salmon on a slice of bread.

Canning

There are two home canning techniques to store food at home. One being water bath canning and the other being pressure canning. Water bath canning requires any large lidded pot that will fit your jars with headspace for water to cover them and a lid. Pressure canning requires a special pot that gets up to a certain psi to safely can non-acidic foods for long shelf life. There are ways to can asparagus with both of these methods so hang tight while we work through them.

Water Bath Canning

Asparagus naturally is a low acid food. So water bath canning it as is would not be a safe shelf stable option. You can always add acid to food to bring the PH to a safe level for water bath canning. This would be pickled asparagus. Home canners have been doing this for decades and use these pickled spears on sandwiches, as a snack, or on an appetizer tray. Check out my recipe for Easy Water Bath Pickled Asparagus.

Pressure Canning

Low acid foods, like asparagus, can through a few quick steps be pressured canned for storage for up to a year on a cool dark shelf. You do have to have some investment in some equipment, but many other foods can be preserved this way and it is an efficient and electric free way of storing your harvest. Check out my recipe for Pressure Canned Asparagus.

No matter which way you store your harvest, asparagus is totally a worth while investment to get into the garden. Not only does it produce for years to come with little annual commitment, but it is an easy crop to store in many different ways. I hope that you throw asparagus into your landscape plans and get some for yourself. Happy Growing!
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