It's Better To Use Fresh Asparagus Over Canned

Using canned vegetables is undoubtedly more convenient than cleaning and chopping fresh ones. Some can turn out just as good as the real thing, especially if they're spruced up to add more flavor, but others can end up disappointingly lackluster once you pour them out. When it comes to asparagus, the latter is typically true. Asparagus is in season from February to June, so during those months, try to take advantage of these fresh, crispy veggies.

Why are asparagus typically tastier when they're right out of the ground? When they appear in a can on your grocery store shelf, they've been cooked ahead of time and are stored in water, leading to wet, mushy veggies. Plus, using the canned version doesn't cut much time (if any) off of your cooking process. 

Steamed asparagus only takes about five minutes on the stove, and cast iron pan-fried asparagus takes about 10 minutes to make. In the same vein, the canned veggies can take about 15 minutes in the oven or a little less in the air fryer. So not only are you not saving any time by opting for a can, but you're losing the asparagus' signature crunch.

How to keep your fresh asparagus crisp

To preserve a firmer texture, it's important to make sure you don't overcook it — if you do, you may end up with the mushy spears that you'll find in the canned version. If you're sautéing, keep a close eye on the veggies so you'll know when to pull them off. They only need a few minutes to cook, and they should still be bright green (dullness indicates sogginess, as seen in the canned veggies) and a little firm when done, but thicker spears will take longer to cook than thinner ones. To help ward off softness even more, dunk your veggies in an ice bath once they're done to get them out of the heat immediately.

Storing asparagus correctly is also key to maintaining a good crunch. It can technically last a week in the fridge, but it can start to go bad quickly, so you'll want to cook it as soon as possible. It may sound counterintuitive, but you can actually keep it fresher by storing it in water (since it's not pre-cooked, it won't turn mushy like the canned version will). After you've trimmed your spears, stand them up in a jar filled with a little cold water and cover them — just be sure to change the water frequently.