Asparagus gets quite a lot of bad press which we don’t think it deserves. Sure, it doesn’t go well with absolutely every dish, but when you get it right, it really enhances the overall flavor and presentation of your recipe (Also Read: Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing). However, due to the fact that it isn’t that widely used, some of us may find ourselves using just a small bit of it and leaving the rest in the fridge. This is fine for asparagus in a jar, but it does raise the question, how long does it take for fresh asparagus to go bad? Is there any way of storing it long-term to make sure that it doesn’t go off in a matter of days? Well, seeing as we’re tired of having to throw out leftover asparagus, we decided to compile a quick guide on how best to store asparagus, how long it will keep, and how to spot that it may have gone off. If this is the info you are after, look no further!
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Does Asparagus Go Bad?
Unfortunately, there is no way that we know of to prolong the lifespan of asparagus. Pickling and freezing can help, but either method will alter the texture and flavor of your asparagus. However, by using the storage techniques below, you will ensure that your asparagus stays at its freshest for the longest possible time.
How Do I Store Asparagus?
There are quite a few pitfalls when it comes to storing asparagus that may come as surprising news to many of you. As it turns out, the very thing that most of us do with our asparagus when we get it home is one of the worst things you could possibly do! So, if you have been simply placing it in the fridge when it gets in the door, you may want to read this. Storing your asparagus this way will dramatically shorten its lifespan. The reason for this is that asparagus, in contrast to most other vegetables, prefers to be stored in moist conditions. So, to remedy this, the best method is to keep the stalks moist. Dampen some paper towel, wrap it around the stalks, and place the unsealed bag that the asparagus came in back into the fridge.
To really eke out the longest possible time from the asparagus, there is a slightly more complex and fiddly trick that you can use. First, put an inch or so of water into the bottom of a jar. Then place the spears into the jar and cover them with a plastic wrap; loosely, so that the asparagus can still breathe. By doing this, the asparagus will last much, much longer than it otherwise would have. Should the water get cloudy at any point, simply change it out. In the case of precooked asparagus, there really isn’t any major trick to keeping it healthy for a long time. The best you can do for it is to transfer it into an airtight container and then either refrigerate or freeze it.
Should You Refrigerate Asparagus?
Asparagus really won’t survive for long at room temperature. Because of this, your only real options are to refrigerate, freeze, or pickle it. Above, we have described two pretty nifty tricks that will help you keep your asparagus for as long as possible.
Can You Freeze Asparagus?
Though refrigeration is a great short term solution for keeping your asparagus fresh, it won’t buy you that much time. Given that asparagus doesn’t exactly come cheap, it makes sense to look for a longer-term solution for storage. Thankfully, this is it. Asparagus freezes remarkably well, with the texture and flavor retaining their quality even after it has been thawed. However, it isn’t a case of just jamming the spears into the freezer and forgetting about them until the next time they are needed. There is a bit of prep work involved.
First up, you need to wash and trim the asparagus. After this, they need to be blanched for about two minutes and set into some cool water afterward. The next step is to ensure that they are nice and dry so that they won’t all stick together during freezing. Once they are all dry, simply put them into freezer bags, squeeze out any excess air, and then seal them up. And there you have it, fresh asparagus at your fingertips months after the day of purchase!
How Long Does Asparagus Last?
Asparagus stored in the fridge without using our above storage techniques can expire in as little as 3 days. By using the paper towel method, you can get a little bit more time out of the asparagus, but not much. We reckon that 6 or 7 days is the absolute maximum for this method. By using the more complex and time-consuming jar method, you may push out the shelf-life of your asparagus as far as 2 weeks. In the fridge, you can really only expect pre-cooked asparagus to last for 3 or 4 days.
By freezing your asparagus, you are pretty much guaranteed that it will not go bad. However, though it may not go bad, it will still begin to lose its quality over time. To put a general estimate on how long it will retain its quality, we would recommend that you use frozen asparagus within a year for best results.
How Do I Make Asparagus Last Longer?
Having examined all of the best storage techniques for making asparagus last for as long as possible, the jar technique and the ‘blanche and freeze’ technique definitely come out on top. Canning and pickling will also ensure that your asparagus will keep for a long time, but there is a sacrifice here when it comes to texture.
Signs That Your Asparagus May Have Gone Off
Thankfully, asparagus is one of those foods that is in no way ambiguous when it comes to letting you know when it’s gone beyond safe to eat. At first, the asparagus will go from being nice and firm to curiously mushy feeling. You may also notice that there may be some dark spots forming on the stalks. Though it is technically true that you can cut around these bad bits and save the good, we wouldn’t recommend doing so. If these signs of spoilage are present at all, even the better-looking bits won’t be anywhere near as good as the fresh stuff. They won’t exactly look good on a plate either. The only other sign of spoilage is a strange and somewhat pungent odor. If you notice anything of the sort, the only thing to do is to chuck it out.