From the Farmer

Savor the Flavor: Three Simple Ways to Preserve the Last Asparagus of the Season

Published on Tips + tricks

Like so many pleasurable things, the flavors of spring are fleeting—the last round of asparagus is about to hit our Farm Boxes! We’re not ready to say goodbye to our favorite veggie, so we’ve gone mad with preservation power—we’re canning, we’re freezing, and we’re here to help you get in on the action! When you get your Farm Box this week, try our easy, tried-and-true methods to keep that amazing asparagus flavor going all year ‘round.

The simplest way to preserve asparagus is to freeze it. To get started, you’ll need to remove the woody bottoms of your asparagus. (Always trim your asparagus with a knife rather than snapping the ends off with your hands—though your Grandma may swear by it, the accuracy of this method is actually a major myth!) Since we’re using late-season asparagus, you’ll only need to trim off about a quarter inch from the bottom; if you’re using thicker stalks, you’ll need to remove one to two inches.

Don’t throw away those trimmed ends, though! Scroll to the bottom of this article to find our recipe for an easy, amazing asparagus stock.

Next, a quick blanch. Boil one pound of asparagus for two to five minutes depending on thickness; for late-season stalks, don’t let them cook for longer than two minutes. You can also steam your stalks—place asparagus in a steamer basket over approximately one inch of water. Cover and allow to steam for three minutes, or up to six minutes for thick stalks.

Whether you boil or steam, transfer your asparagus to an ice water bath immediately after you remove it from the heat. Let it sit in the cold water for the length of time for which it cooked, then transfer to a colander to drain.

Now, you’re ready to freeze. For individual spears, lay your stalks out on baking sheets and freeze for 1-2 hours, then transfer the asparagus to freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers. If you don’t have the freezer space for baking sheets or prefer a less-fussy approach, you can place your blanched, chilled, and drained stalks directly into freezer bags—be sure to pat them dry to keep them from freezing into one big block. Frozen asparagus will keep in the freezer for about 12 months.

If freezing isn’t your thing, you can easily do a quick pickle. Put one clove of garlic, one quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and a few whole black peppercorns in the bottom of a pint jar. Pack asparagus tightly into the jar—you can do whole stalks or cut them into inch-long segments. To make your pickling liquid, mix 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 2¼ teaspoons pickling salt together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully pour the boiling liquid over your asparagus, covering completely. Let it cool, cover, and pop those suckers in the fridge for at least two hours—for max flavor, wait three days to devour. This will last in the refrigerator for approximately one month.

For an Asian take, you can try Misozuke—this Japanese pickling method uses miso paste to give veggies a ton of flavor and depth. To make: blanch asparagus stalks in salted, boiling water for 1-2 minutes; drain and pat dry. Lay your spears in a non-reactive baking dish (glass or ceramic are best) and cover with white miso paste, which is available at most grocery stores. Cover with plastic wrap and let the stalks marinate for at least three hours, though they will keep in the fridge for up to one month. When you’re ready to eat one, remove it from the miso paste and give it a quick rinse—then slice, serve, done!

Whether it’s the last bunch of the season or a bumper batch that’s got you drowning in a kitchen full of fruits and veggies, preserving your crop is an easy way to make sure you have access fruits and vegetables at peak flavor, no matter the season or the reason.

 

Asparagus Stock

  • 6 cups asparagus ends
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 handful parsley sprigs
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any scum that collects on the top of your cooking liquid. Reduce heat to low; cover and let simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and strain. For a rich, creamy texture without adding any dairy, it pays to puree—a few zaps with an immersion blender and you're ready to go! Cool completely before storing. Stays fresh for two weeks in your fridge or six months in the freezer.