Asparagus season seems to come and go in a flash. It happens to be one of my kids favorite vegetables and luckily it grows in abundance around here. In fact, if we are paying close enough attention we can find several meals worth of wild asparagus just from walking along the ditches. Then there is the kind neighbor that brings over some of their delicious garden bounty. And maybe you purchased some from the store a few days ago too because the sign said “local”. The problem is that there is so much of it at one time! We don’t want it to go to waste because it is SO GOOD! But honestly, you can only eat so much bacon wrapped asparagus in the month of April.
So what can you do with ALL THAT asparagus?? Aside from eating it for every single meal … The fastest fix for too much asparagus that I have found is to chop it up and freeze it. Now there is a little bit more to it then that so let me explain how to do it so your asparagus will be flavorful and delicious instead of mushy and bland. Because NO kid, except maybe the baby, is going to eat mushy and bland asparagus without a fight!
First off, you will need some asparagus … That could probably go without saying but hey, I am being thorough here okay! The fresher the better because every minute after it is picked, some of the flavor and texture is lost.
Now fill your sink with cold water and dump your spears in. Give it a good swish around and leave them there for a minute.
Gather your supplies ….
- Large pot to blanch (cook) the asparagus in, filled 2/3 with water
- 2 large bowls, 1 for the waste and one for the good part
- Ziploc bags, I use freezer quarts
- towel on top of a cookie sheet, to put the washed asparagus on and transport easily
- cutting board
- large knife
- large slotted spoon
- tongs if you would like (I didn’t actually end up using them because the slotted spoon did the trick)
Head back over to the sink and start washing. Pay special attention to the broken ends, they get little bits of dirt packed in them and then you get gritty asparagus … which will also be a problem with the kids. Pile your washed spears on the cookie sheet with the towel. I also check the asparagus when washing for any that have the tops broken off or look too mature. I am pretty picky with it because we usually have so much. Put your giant pot on the stove and turn it on high right now too so it’s ready when you are.
Take your cookie sheet of clean asparagi (that’s got to be a word right?) to your table or counter for cutting. Take a handful and set them on your cutting board all facing the same direction. Line up the bottoms with each other for faster cutting so you can do lots at one time. Then chop off the bottom portion and chuck it into your compost bowl. This part gets hard and not so tasty when it’s cooked.
If you are unsure where to cut it off you can do two things …. grab an asparagus and hold it with one hand in the middle of the spear and the other hand on the bottom end and bend it until it snaps OR you can look at it and cut just above the lighter, hard end part thingy. That sounded very scientific I know. If you are worried about it then cut a little higher then you think you should and you will be just fine.
After you discard the nasty bottoms, chop the rest of the yummy part up in 1-2 inch chunks and put them in your other bowl. I am putting that in bold for me because I kept tossing my yummies into my compost bowl.
Take your bowl of cut asparagus over to the stove. Is your water boiling? Good! Leave your stove on high, and using your slotted spoon, scoop some asparagus into the giant pot but stop putting it in when the water stops boiling. It was about five scoops for me. Set the timer on your oven for 1 minute and 30 seconds and hit start as soon as the water has come back to a boil. This part is called blanching. You do this to help preserve the asparagus better. It will retain it’s flavor and texture better if you do this correctly. Don’t stress it too much though, if your off by a bit your asparagus won’t kill you.
Also while your asparagus is boiling, fill your sink with COLD water and toss a few ice cubes in.
When the timer goes off, carry your pot over to the sink and scoop your asparagus directly into the cold ice water. This will stop the cooking process and complete your blanching which equals much yummier asparagus later, yay!
Leave it there for a few minutes so it can cool completely. I just left it there while I blanched the next little bit. Then when they are almost done cooking, scoop out the cold ones onto the cookie sheet with the towel again to dry a bit, you didn’t toss that towel into the laundry room already did you?
Keep cooking, cooling, and scooping onto the towel until all the asparagus is blanched. At this point I was thinking the asparagus looked pretty darn delicious! And we are almost done! All that’s left to do is label your bags and fill ’em up. I fill mine a little less then half full so that if I don’t need the whole bag at once I can easily break off some of it and leave the rest in the freezer.
Oh ya and they stack better because you can flatten them.
And there you have it! Beautiful, delicious asparagus to put in the freezer for later instead of going moldy in the fridge. My favorite way to use this is in a stir fry but there are a million and one other things you could do with it.
Maybe this year I will get it all done before any goes to waste!