Elegant, expensive, and makes your pee smell weird.
Asparagus is a vegetable like no other – with its unique qualities, it also requires quite different storage methods to most other veggies.
Asparagus goes off annoyingly fast in the fridge. You don’t want to waste any asparagus, because they’re full of glutathione, which is shown to fight cancer cells, and antioxidants, which prevent the signs of aging.
If wasting asparagus is the last thing you want to do, you’re in the right place.
Today, we’ll be looking at how to tell if your asparagus has gone bad (spoiler: the most surefire sign is mushiness), as well as the best ways to store asparagus, and how long asparagus keeps.
How To Tell If Your Asparagus Has Gone Bad
Unsure about a pack of asparagus you’ve found lurking at the back of your fridge?
First, you should know how to recognize fresh, delicious asparagus. Look for dark lush green tips and firm stalks.
When asparagus first starts turning bad, it’ll just be the tips that go mushy and darker over a few days. If you find your asparagus in this state in its aging process, all is not lost. You can cut the tips off and use the rest of the asparagus, but make sure you do it today.
When the rest of the asparagus starts decaying, you’re better off just binning the bad ones, though you can cut the bad bits out. Make sure you cut the bad parts out thoroughly – soft parts of the asparagus can harbor mold and bacteria.
Here are the signs that your asparagus has gone bad:
- Soft, mushy parts
- Black spots on the stalks
- Discolored stems
- Foul or unusual smell
How To Store Asparagus
First off, when you get home from your grocery shop, don’t take the rubber band off your asparagus spears. The band actually helps them to stay stable and secure.
This is where asparagus start to get weird. Unlike other veggies, asparagus keeps best in a damp environment.
Therefore, asparagus are best kept in the fridge.
You thought you could just chuck your asparagus in the fridge? Think again.
To preserve the life of your asparagus, you should actually take your asparagus out of any packaging as soon as you get home. You don’t need to wash them. Then you have two options.
One option is to wrap the bottom of your stalks in a wet paper towel and transfer this back to the bag. Place it in your fridge, with the bag unsealed.
Your other option is to store your spears in a jar, with maybe an inch of water. Loosely cover the top with some cling film – it needs to be loose to allow air to circulate.
Remember to change the water if it goes cloudy or dirty.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to keep your asparagus away from other veggies. Asparagus does well with water, but most other vegetables don’t.
Once your asparagus is cooked, it’s pretty standard. Simply pop the spears into an airtight container (sealed this time) and put them in the fridge.
For long-term storage, either for cooked or raw asparagus, you’ll have to turn to the freezer. Although there is a process you need to follow before putting raw asparagus in the freezer, it’s worth it given the length of time your asparagus will last (more on that later).
- Prep your asparagus spears by washing, trimming, and cutting them.
- Blanche your asparagus. You can do all of them in one go by dropping them in boiling water for 120 secs. However, if you want to ensure your asparagus don’t actually start cooking, you can separate the stems by stalk thickness. For thin stalks, blanche for 90 seconds. Medium stalks should blanche for 120 seconds. Thick stalks should blanche for 180 seconds. When they’re finished, the blanched spear should be bright green.
- Run the asparagus under cold water as soon as they’re out of the boiling water.
- Pat your asparagus dry, and let air dry for 15 minutes.
- Once your asparagus are dry to the touch, divide the spears into adequate portion sizes and segment among freezer bags. Remember to squeeze all the air out for prolonged freshness.
- Date the bags so you’re never caught out wondering: “is my asparagus still good?”
- Pop your asparagus spears in the freezer. If your freezer is packed tightly and you’re worried about the spears being damaged, you can always put your freezer bags in a rigid freezer container.
How Long Asparagus Lasts
Despite its high price tag, asparagus doesn’t last very long when not in the freezer.
Put in the fridge without any of the methods outlined in this article, expect your asparagus spears to last a measly 3-4 days.
Using the paper towel method, your asparagus will last 5-7 days. Using the jar with an inch of water method will keep your asparagus crunchy and delicious for 10-14 days.
Cooked asparagus in an airtight container will still only last 3-5 days.
All sounds like bad news, right?
Don’t fret. The freezer is your friend for long-term asparagus storage. If you blanche your asparagus to kill bacteria beforehand, your asparagus will last for 6-8 months in the freezer!
Cooked asparagus will last a similar amount of time in the freezer too.
Asparagus doesn’t last long, unfortunately, and it’s started to go off when parts of the asparagus are mushy.
For storage up to 14 days, you should put your asparagus upright in an inch of water, in a jar in the fridge. For longer, blanche-ing and freezing is your go-to.