Fresh asparagus at the farmers market is a sure sign of warm weather ahead, but how long does asparagus stay fresh? Traditionally, asparagus is at its peak in May and June, and once you buy it, it can last in the fridge for about a week, or even longer in the freezer, keeping its green flavor, color, and texture intact.
If you don’t cook with your whole asparagus in that time, don’t worry. We have some chef-approved tips on how to preserve and freeze cut asparagus for a later date.
How to Store Whole and Fresh Asparagus
Keeping market fresh asparagus crisp isn’t difficult, it just takes a little preparation and proper asparagus storage. “Asparagus can be temperamental,” says Fernando Navas, chef and owner of BALVANERA, an Argentine restaurant in Manhattan. “I like to buy small amounts for the restaurant and use right away to really show off that special grassy spring flavor.”
At home, Navas recommends storing whole asparagus in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for a week or so. “But the sooner you can eat it, the better,” she adds. “That’s generally my opinion on everything except a dry-cured steak, cheese, or a bottle of wine.” You’ll know your asparagus has reached peak freshness when the heads begin to soften. That’s when it’s time to eat, cook or freeze the vegetables. “Don’t wait for the stems to start changing color and lose firmness,” warns Navas.
Some home cooks also like to store asparagus in water, like fresh flowers. To do this, trim off the ends (about 1/4 inch is enough) and place the asparagus in a cup, mug, or vase with a few inches of fresh water. Store it in the fridge, but if you’re short on space, the countertop can work for a few days too. You can also place a plastic bag, plastic wrap, or paper towel over the top of the spears to protect them and help ensure they retain that classic freshness. If you notice the water turning cloudy, change it, ideally every day or so. Fresh asparagus stored this way can last for more than a week.
How to store cooked asparagus
Once you’ve cooked the asparagus, wrap it in aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days. You can also store it in a tightly closed food storage container. If you wait longer than 48 hours, Navas recommends reinventing your cooked asparagus into something else, like a soup. You can also freeze cooked asparagus or asparagus soup that you make with leftovers.
Can asparagus be frozen?
Fresh asparagus can be frozen, but not straight from the refrigerator. To preserve color and texture, and not let the raw asparagus turn to mush, cut off the ends of the fresh asparagus, then cut into smaller pieces, if desired. Then blanch in boiling salted water for about 30-60 seconds, until bright green, and transfer to an ice bath. This will preserve the color, texture, and flavor. Pat the asparagus dry and transfer to a date-lined freezer bag. “You have about a year to cook [with fresh frozen] asparagus”, advises Navas. “The right time to return to the high season; a great way to extend spring.
Once you are ready to use your frozen asparagus, do not thaw it. Instead, cook from frozen by sautéing or steaming the vegetable to preserve most of the flavor, texture, and color.
Ready to use up that fresh or frozen asparagus? This is what to do with it! Make a quick and simple roasted asparagus that uses only olive oil, salt, and pepper to bring out the best flavors asparagus has to offer. You can also make a quick and healthy enough linguine dish with asparagus and pine nuts, which is the perfect weeknight dinner or even the hit of dinner. If you’re itching to fire up the grill, we’ve got a few tips for the perfect grilled asparagus, which hits every time. And if you’re looking for a complete feast that highlights asparagus, try these Charred Asparagus Lamb Chops.