Recycled – Freezing Asparagus: What I’ve Learned

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March 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

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.

So, about eight pounds of asparagus came home with me and found their way to the chest freezer.

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Xan says:

    I bet it would make a nice baba ganoush!

    • Michael Morowitz says:

      But it isn’t roasted eggplant!

      If you just mean that the veggie puree would make a good dip for bread or other veggies, I’d say maybe. The asparagus was barely cooked and the puree, on its own doesn’t have much depth of flavor. Perhaps mixed with a cheese, I could have fashioned some sort of dip, but in terms of feeding the family, I don’t have much use for dips.

  2. Melissa says:

    While I don’t freeze whole asparagus, I freeze the trimmings. You can use the same way as you’ve done in this post and you use up your “waste.”

  3. Russell Lewis says:

    The best (really only) way to freeze asparagus and have them remain edible in their original form is to blanch them for a minute or two or three, depending on size, plunge in cold water to stop the cooking and dry and then vacuum seal and freeze. Makes a world of difference.

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