Little else feels more spring-like in your dish than fresh spears of asparagus. But unless you can use them up right away, you will need to know how to store them.
Delectable as it may be, asparagus is quite a challenging vegetable to store. Even when stored properly, it will only remain fresh for a few days before wilting. But there are certain tricks you can use to extend its shelf-life.
Here is what you can do.
How to Choose the Best Asparagus Stalks for Storage
Because asparagus wilts so quickly, it’s important to buy the freshest spears that you can get your hands on. Asparagus’ quality begins to go downhill the moment it is cut.
Fortunately, it is quite easy to check for its freshness. The first and most obvious sign is coloration.
Look for stalks that are uniformly green from the tip right down to the bottom. Take special note of the bottoms of the stalks. If they have a slight brown tinge, the asparagus stalks aren’t freshly cut.
The tips of the asparagus stalks should have either a bright green or violet color. Both of which are signs of freshness. Do not pick stalks with brown tips.
Next, you should check their size. The stems should be about as thick as a standard pencil or slightly larger. Asparagus stalks with larger stems are typically harder to cook and can be chewy.
Inspect the texture of the stalks, as well. They should be firm throughout. There should definitely not be any soft or mushy spots.
The Best Ways to Store Asparagus
In order for asparagus to stay fresh, you have to supply it with a lot of water. This is why the best way to store it is to literally treat it like you would a bunch of flowers.
Craft a vase from an unused mason jar or use an old glass vase, then add some water and your bunch of asparagus stalks. Cover the top of your makeshift vase with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in and foreign smells out. Place the vase of asparagus in the fridge.
It may sound simple, but your asparagus will easily last for up to a week before turning bad. That’s more than enough time for you to use up the bunch.
If you don’t have the fridge space, you can store them in plastic bags, instead. This method is less complicated and will save you some precious fridge space. Your asparagus will last around 3 to 5 days using this method.
Last but not least, you can freeze asparagus if you want to keep it fresh for a long time. Asparagus freezes quite well and can last for up to a year. If this is what you’re planning to do with your asparagus, refer to our separate asparagus freezing guide below.
How to Store Asparagus in Detail
1. In the Fridge
The first thing to do is to trim your asparagus’ ends. When an asparagus stalk is cut off during harvest, the cut end scabs over to protect the stalk from further damage. As a result, if you place the stalks as they are into your vase, they won’t absorb any water and will soon wilt.
Trim off about ½ inch of the stalks’ bottoms the moment you get home.
After trimming, do not rinse or wash the stalks. You should only wash the asparagus stalks prior to using, never prior to storage. If you do, the asparagus will degrade quicker.
First, you will need a storage container that can fit the bunch of asparagus. Usually, a large mason jar or a jelly jar will work. If you don’t have either of these, you can use a tall glass or an unused vase.
It’s not recommended to use opaque containers. Use clear plastic or glass containers only. This is because you will need to regularly check on the water inside of the container and change it if it turns murky.
Fill up your container of choice with an inch of water.
Add your bunch of asparagus. Ensure that the cut ends of all stalks are fully submerged.
Drape a plastic bag over the top of the container and the asparagus. If you forego the plastic bag, your asparagus will taste and smell like whatever else you keep in the fridge.
Place the vase in the fridge and it will last for around a week. However, you should make an effort to use it up within 5 days for maximum freshness.
2. In Plastic Bags
This method is less complicated and will take up less fridge space overall.
Prepare your asparagus in the same manner as earlier. But now, instead of placing in a vase, wrap the stalks up in wet paper towels. The wet paper towels will keep the asparagus stalks hydrated.
Put the wrapped-up bunch of asparagus into a resealable plastic bag, then into the fridge. Use the asparagus within 3 to 5 days.
3. How to Store Cooked Asparagus
If you have already cooked your asparagus and have some left over, don’t throw them away yet. There is a way to salvage them.
Place your cooked asparagus in an airtight container. A plastic food box with a well-fitted lid will do. Place the box in the fridge. Use within 5 days (though cooked asparagus can last for up to a full week).
If you don’t know how to store asparagus properly, this delicious spring vegetable can be difficult to keep fresh. But now that you know the ins-and-outs, it should no longer be a problem for you!
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.