Selecting High-Quality Asparagus:
Select firm, tender young spears. If growing your own, cut them immediately before freezing, as once cut, asparagus spears wilt quickly.
Preparing for Freezing:
Wash thoroughly and sort spears by size. Avoid using stalks that are more than 1" in diameter-they tend to be tough. Trim stalks by breaking off 2 inches of the woody stems and scales with a sharp knife. Cut into even lengths to fit containers.
Blanch small spears for 2 minutes, medium spears 3 minutes and large spears 4 minutes. If steam blanching, add an additional minute. Cool promptly and drain.
Best Freezing Method(s):
- Boilable Bags: This is the fastest method. Clean and prepare spears. Place desired amounts into boilable bags, add desired seasoning, press out air and seal. Blanch bags in boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes depending on size of spears. Cool bags in ice water, pat dry and freeze.
- Tray Packs: Drained asparagus spears can be laid flat on a cookie sheet and placed in the freezer. Using this method makes it easiest to separate spears when cooking. When fully frozen, portion them into suitable containers as desired and return them to the freezer.
- Dry Packs: Alternatively, once cooled, blanched asparagus spears can be transferred directly into suitable containers for freezing. Leaving headspace is not necessary for foods such as broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts that do not pack tightly in containers.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing asparagus includes freezer-grade plastic bags, rigid plastic containers or glass containers and heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Maximum Storage Time (s):
8 to 10 months at 0ºF.
In most cases, it isn't necessary to thaw spears before cooking. When it is necessary, place spears under cold running water to thaw.
Tips & Shortcuts:
Cut off woody stems can be saved, pureed and frozen for later use as a base for soups or soufflés. If freezing large amounts of asparagus, place spears onto the rack of a large roasting pan filled 2/3 with water. Place the pan over two burners and bring it to a rolling boil, lowering the rack holding the spears into the water.
Do not wash asparagus before storing. Wash it just before using. To store, wrap in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag that is not airtight, or place upright in a jar or glass containing 1/2 inch of cold water. Refrigerate for to 3 to 5 days.