How to Freeze Asparagus the Right Way
Growing up, my Grandma had an asparagus patch probably as big as a school bus, if not bigger. It was amazing to see how all this asparagus came back each and every year. She was so diligent and patient with it, only cutting back the best pieces, allowing the smaller stalks to go to fern (to reseed over the off-season) and caring for it.
While it was fun for us, we also learned that it was work to stay on top of things such as this. Asparagus has a very short harvesting season here in Ohio. Starting around mid-April and almost guaranteed to be done producing by May, you really have to be diligent to get every single stalk you can while you can.
I have a small asparagus patch here in the suburbs, which is rare (trust me, my neighbors are in awe of it) but it’s especially tricky because I am super limited on size. My raised bed asparagus patch is only 4’x8′. I have to be especially attentive to the patch so as not to miss any harvestable stalks. I don’t get a lot, but I’ve learned over the years that fresh asparagus is like candy- a special treat each year for a small window of time. The rest of the year you must deal with either frozen, canned, or pickled asparagus.
I started my yearly task of freezing asparagus, which City Spouse doesn’t even really like, so basically, everything I put away is for me. (Not that I’m complaining.)
The first task is to harvest the asparagus, and clean and wash it as usual.
Then you will cut it into smaller pieces, only for the sake of fitting into both your stockpot and your freezer bags.
Get Out the Stockpot
Fill your stockpot about 1/2 to 3/4 full of filtered water. (If you don’t have crappy, horrible, chemically treated water, then skip this. I, unfortunately, have to deal with city water, which is full of chloramine.) Bring to a rolling boil.
I tried to get you a picture of a rolling boil, but my camera kept fogging up!
Parboil Your Harvest
Place about 2 servings into the boiling water. I usually just eyeball it. I’m sure you know your pots and pans too, so you can just guess how much to put in that it will remain completely submerged.
Boil for 2 minutes in the stockpot. Swirl to keep it even and so that none floats on top the entire time getting under-blanched.
You will see it turn to a bright green color, which is exactly what you want it to do.
After 2 minutes, immediately dunk your asparagus into ice water. If you skip this step, the internal heat will continue to cook your wonderful stalks and they will not reheat well. They will be mush. So remember- the ice bath is the most important step.
At Home “Flash” Freezing
You are going to “flash freeze” the stalks before you actually permanently store them. Place them in your freezer in a single layer for 1 to 3 hours. You can lay them out on a cookie sheet, some wax paper, or use a kitchen towel (like I have). Just a note on the towel method: the water from cooking will soak into the towel and freeze the stalks to the towel. You have to be a little more gentle when removing so that you don’t break your stalks into little pieces.
Freeze the blanched asparagus. Then, place into your chosen freezer bags.
Make sure you label and date your frozen asparagus, and then enjoy it whenever you so desire. Don’t forget to check out my Asparagus Pesto and Asparagus Pesto Pasta. You’ll love finding more variety for this yummy vegetable.