The Best Ways To Keep Asparagus Fresh

No one enjoys fresh produce spoiling and having to be thrown away, and asparagus is no exception. As with many other types of fresh produce and herbs that need to be carefully kept in the fridge, moisture plays a huge role in how quickly asparagus turns bad (via Medmunch). Moisture is not the only important factor, though. Access to controlled airflow is also important. Otherwise, colonies consisting of millions of bacteria that cause the produce to spoil can begin to grow and thrive in such conditions, according to Michigan State University. Keeping asparagus dry with plenty of space and air around it can help promote a cleaner and fresher environment, which can help prevent or slow the growth of bacteria.

Luckily, the best methods for keeping asparagus fresh take both of those conditions into account. Depending on just how long you need your asparagus spears to stay fresh, there are several techniques that can be used to extend their shelf life. For those who have more asparagus than they can eat in a short period of time, the spears will need more thorough preparation to be stored and kept at their best for a longer period of time. Here are the best ways to keep asparagus fresh.

Use a glass of water to keep the spears crisp

According to Taste, asparagus can be stored like a bouquet of flowers: upright in a glass or jar filled with just enough water to cover the bottom of the spears (herbs like cilantro and parsley can be stored in the same way). But fresh asparagus also needs controlled airflow, in addition to fresh water, to keep moisture from building on the spears. To accomplish that, you will also need to place a plastic bag loosely over the tops of the asparagus to allow enough air into the bag and prevent too much moisture from building up. 

This method is best for those who plan to eat the asparagus within several days of buying and storing it. According to Food Network, the spears should remain crisp and fresh for up to four days. Just keep in mind that the water needs to be changed every so often to avoid getting cloudy. By changing the water regularly, you can maximize and extend the life of your fresh asparagus when stored this way. 

Opt for damp kitchen towels

Another way to keep asparagus fresh in the fridge is to utilize damp paper towels (via Food Network). Start by removing the asparagus from the original packaging and placing the spears onto a few layers of damp paper towels. Roll them up inside the paper towels and place them inside a plastic bag inside the fridge. Keep in mind that the bag should be open to ensure there is air cycling into the bag regularly. If you are worried about too much moisture inside the bag, you can wrap several layers of dry paper towels around the moistened paper towels. 

While this method is also effective for keeping asparagus fresh for several days, the spears may not stay as crisp as they would using the bouquet method. The benefit of this technique is that it requires less space and upkeep than a jar of water for the asparagus (via Food Network). But the asparagus will not continue to stay fresh for more than three or four days using this method either. For long-term freshness, you will need to resort to the freezer.

Freeze the spears to use later

For those with an abundance of asparagus who know that they cannot use it all before it turns bad, you can still make good use of the freezer. With the right care and preparation, asparagus can be frozen and kept fresh for up to eight months, according to the Food Network. But instead of freezing raw asparagus, you will need to briefly cook it in order to preserve its fresh color and taste after frozen.

Begin by washing and trimming the ends of the spears to remove the harder, more fibrous bottom. Next, you will need to blanch the asparagus by boiling the spears in hot water before placing them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process quickly. You can choose to keep the spears whole, chop them up finely, or slice the spears into two or three pieces each. But once all of the asparagus you plan to freeze has been blanched, you can freeze them in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for months to come.