Recycled – Freezing Asparagus: What I’ve Learned
Editor’s note: Amazingly, we think you’ll start finding asparagus in the Chicago area in March. If you cannot eat your asparagus as you buy it, you may want to freeze it. A few years ago, Local Beet c0-founder, Michael Morowitz, contributed this report on lessons he learned on freezing asparagus.
One year ago, fresh off the purchase of my new chest freezer and Foodsaver(tm) vacuum sealer, I found myself anxious to take home a springtime haul from the farmers market and get it into the deep freeze for winter local eating. I thought that it made the most sense to buy a large quantity of something I really liked. Buying in bulk helped me bargain for a better price (making my haul very competitive with supermarket prices) and gave me some economies of scale during the labor of blanching, chilling, tray freezing, packing and sealing.
This past winter, I started breaking out these packages and quickly learned that thawed asparagus (one of my favorite vegetables) isn’t good for much. It gets very stringy and doesn’t maintain much good structure. I decided that my mountain of frozen stalks would only be useful as a puree. Sadly, my stick blender wasn’t up to the task (it yielded a mucus-like texture). The full-size blender had to be used to make a smooth, even puree.
So, what to do with 8lbs. of asparagus puree? A lot of soup. Homemade chicken stock with asparagus puree and a little milk or cream makes a nice soup. Paired with a winter salad and some hearty bread, it made many nice winter meals. A couple other options I came up with: mash and mix with cheese for a ravioli filling, stir into risotto, or sneak it into the toddlers’ beloved smoothies.
I suppose a little googling would have quickly revealed that asparagus didn’t make a good freezing vegetable, but some lessons it’s good to learn on your own. I would have much preferred ten jars of pickled asparagus than ten packages of the frozen stuff.
Will I freeze any this year? I might freeze a package or two of puree for soup or risotto next winter, but not too much. I’m going to direct my freezing energies in a different directions this spring.