Fresh Produce / Goodness on the Side! / Preserving / Vegetables

Blanching and Freezing Fresh Asaparagus

AsparagusAsparagus is a wonderful vegetable. Unfortunately in some places it isn’t one of the veggies that you can find readily accessible year-round. Where we live in Kansas, we start looking for the shoots to spring up around Easter time, and pretty much check every day after that until they pop through the soil. The thing about how they grow is that one day they aren’t there and so we’ve often forgotten about them for a few days and then next time we’ve checked they have popped up and have grown so tall, have become mostly woody, and are almost seeding out already! This is a vegetable that you definitely want to keep an eye on, that is for sure.

I’ve been having the kids go down and pick the asparagus every day these past couple of weeks. Even though we don’t have a humongous patch where they grow, sometimes there are only so many asparagus one likes to eat in a short amount of time. If this is the case {as was the case for me today}, go ahead and freeze them so they don’t spoil and go to waste! There will be a time later on in the year where it will be nice to have asparagus as an accompaniment to your meal. Even if you don’t grow your own, many times you will find sales in grocery stores this time of year for asparagus. If that is the case, snatch them up and take them home, eat what you like, and freeze the rest for later on in the year!

**As a side note, a good way to keep asparagus fresh until it is ready to be used is to place the cut side of the asparagus in a clean glass of water and be placed in the fridge. The water should be changed every day or two otherwise it can get quite stinky, which is certainly not desirable!**

Blanching and freezing asparagus really is very easy. It requires a bit more work than just placing the fresh asparagus in a bag and then popping it in the freezer, but much, much, much less work than canning {I wouldn’t want to can asparagus anyway….mushy asparagus is not appealing in the least to me}. I am sure many of you have been freezing vegetables for years! But for others who may be new to preserving the harvest of these limited-in-the-year-grown-veggies to save for later I hope this post is insightful and challenges you to take a step in saving these green stalks in order to eat for a bit less money and eat a little healthier all year round! -Shelley.

Blanching and Freezing Asparagus
*Use any amount of asparagus, but to make it worth your while I wouldn’t suggest blanching any less than a pound at a time.

First things first…you are going to need some fresh asparagus. Go ahead and give them a good rinse before starting the process.

Asparagus

If you aren’t familiar with asparagus, there is usually a point on the lower portion of the stalk where the stem gets “woodier” and harder to eat. I usually take the stalk with both hands and bend it so it snaps. More likely than not it will snap at the point where the stalk gets harder. Granted, you don’t have to take the woody ends off {it just adds a bit more fiber to your diet if you are going for that}, but it does make eating them a bit more challenging and a little less enjoyable, in my opinion. I give these scraps to our chickens, which they enjoy. You could also save them to make asparagus soup if you don’t like the idea of wasting them.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Asparagus

**Side note #2: I just have to mention that I would be a person that falls in the second category of not liking to waste things. I think my friends at church actually get a kick out of it at times because I have a really hard time seeing leftovers thrown out, even if is the broth from a turkey or chicken that we have eaten! I will literally freeze leftover broth in gallon-size freezer bags and use it later to make soup, or rice, or tamales, etc. This past weekend, as another example, I attended a canning and preserving class with some friends. We were canning carrots, jam, and salsa as well as drying herbs. You bet I didn’t let those scraps go in the trash! One other lady and I that both have chickens made sure to take home a bag of scraps! No shame here, people.**

Moving on…

After the ends have been dealt with as you see fit, you can either leave whole and blanch and freeze them as is. What I chose to do was cut them into smaller pieces that could easily be tossed into a dish like stir fry. You see, my kids are more likely to eat them if they are smaller and mixed with other vegetables. Apparently it is a bit more appealing to them than just having huge pieces of plain ol’ asparagus served up…

Asparagus

Next it’s blanching time. Blanching is basically throwing vegetables in boiling water for a small amount of time. It starts the cooking process, destroys microorganisms, removes air from the produce and shrinks the product in the process. It also essentially de-activates, or slows down, enzymes that could affect color, flavor and nutrient changes in the vegetables.

For blanching you have one of two choices. At this point you can throw the asparagus in a pot of boiling water and then strain the water off after the blanching is done. But again, you would be throwing away some nutrition-filled veggie water! {I believe I already mentioned my issue with throwing things out that can be repurposed. Roll your eyes if you must. It’s okay, I forgive you. What I chose to do with this asparagus-flavored-water was start to a great soup! Waste not, want not, right?!} So, for the second option, place the asparagus in some sort of strainer and then place the strainer in the water as it blanches. This allows you to reuse the same water to blanch multiple batches as well avoids having to pour the hot water off into the sink, which wastes the veggie-water {sound familiar?!}. I supposed you could use a slotted spoon or tongs to fish them out of the hot water as well if you don’t have a strainer available.

Asparagus

Blanch the asparagus for 2-3 minutes, starting the time once the water comes up to a boil again. The asparagus will be a more vibrant green at the end of this time.

Asparagus

Asparagus

While the blanching is taking place would be a good time to make an ice-water bath to place the veggies in after the blanching time has commenced. You could use a bowl for this, but I chose to make the ice-water bath in the sink {just make sure the sink is clean first if this is the option you choose people}. The cold water stops the cooking process of the vegetables. If you chose to skip this step, it is quite possible that your veggies would be over-done.

Asparagus

At the end of the 2-3 minutes, place blanched asparagus in the ice-water and leave for approximately the same amount of time that it took to blanch.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Once cooled down, place on a cookie sheet or tray to drain excess water off. I placed a few paper towels underneath.

Asparagus

I actually froze the tray at this point for a little while so that the pieces would be individually frozen instead of placing them in a bag while still unfrozen and wet. This helps because I can just grab a handful later on when I want to use them instead of them all being stuck together.

Asparagus

Label and date a freezer bag and place asparagus in it for later use. Enjoy!

Asparagus

Asparagus

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