Fresh asparagus at the farmer’s market is a sure sign of warm weather to come, but how long does asparagus stay fresh for? Traditionally, asparagus is at its peak in May and June, and once you buy it, it can last in the fridge for about a week, or even longer in the freezer, keeping its verdant flavor, color, and texture in tact.
If you don’t cook with your whole asparagus in that time, no worries. We have some chef-approved tips on how to preserve and freeze your cut asparagus for a later date.
How to Store Whole, Fresh Asparagus
Keeping your fresh-from-the-market asparagus crisp isn’t difficult, it just takes some prepping and proper asparagus storage. “Asparagus can be temperamental,” says Fernando Navas, chef and owner of BALVANERA, an Argentinian restaurant in Manhattan. “I like to buy small quantities for the restaurant and use it right away to really show off that special ‘snap’ and grassy, springtime flavor.”
At home, Navas recommends keeping whole asparagus in your refrigerator crisper drawer for a week or so. “But the sooner you can eat it, the better,” he adds. “That’s generally my opinion on everything except a dry-aged steak, cheese, or bottle of wine.” You’ll know your asparagus has reached peak freshness when the heads start getting softer. That’s when it’s time to eat, cook, or freeze the veggie. “Don’t wait until the stems begin to change color and lose firmness,” Navas warns.
Some home cooks also like to store their asparagus in water, like fresh flowers. To do so, trim the ends (about 1/4-inch is enough) and arrange your asparagus in a cup, mug, or vase with a few inches of fresh water. Store it in the fridge, but if you don’t have space, the countertop can also work for a few days. You can also place a plastic bag, plastic wrap, or paper towel over the top of the spears to protect them and help ensure that they retain that classic crispness. If you notice the water getting cloudy, change it out, ideally every day or so. Fresh asparagus stored in this manner can last over a week.
How to Store Cooked Asparagus
Once you’ve cooked your asparagus, wrap it in foil and store it in the fridge for up to two days. You can also keep it in a tightly sealed food storage container. If you wait longer than 48 hours, Navas recommends reinventing your cooked asparagus into something else, like a soup. You can also freeze cooked asparagus or the asparagus soup you make with leftovers.
Can You Freeze Asparagus?
Fresh asparagus can be frozen, but not straight out of the fridge. To preserve color and texture, and not let the raw asparagus turn to mush, cut the ends of fresh asparagus, and then cut it into smaller pieces, if desired. Then, blanch in boiling, salted water for about 30-60 seconds, until it turns bright green, and transfer to an ice bath. This will preserve the color, texture, and flavor. Pat the asparagus dry and move it to a freezer bag with the date. “You have about a year to cook [with fresh frozen] asparagus,” Navas advises. “Just enough time to get to peak season again; a great way to extend springtime.”
Once you’re ready to use your frozen asparagus, do not thaw. Instead, cook from frozen by sautéing or steaming the vegetable to preserve the most flavor, texture, and color.
Ready to use that fresh or frozen asparagus? Here’s what to do with it! Make a quick and simple broiled asparagus that uses just olive oil, salt, and pepper to highlight the best tastes asparagus has to offer. You can also make a fast and healthy-enough linguine dish with asparagus and pine nuts, that’s the perfect weeknight dinner or even dinner party hit. If you’re eager to fire up the grill, we have a few tips for the perfect grilled asparagus, which hits every time. And if you’re going for a full-on feast that highlights asparagus, try these lamb chops with charred asparagus.