Asparagus is a vegetable stacked with beneficial vitamins and minerals. What’s even better, its taste is simply delicious, so if you fell in love with this food, we can’t blame you. Strong flavor not that different from your favorite mushrooms or broccoli that moves slightly towards beans when properly seasoned – what’s not to like?
Well, there is one thing. Asparagus is not entirely a mainstay in modern kitchens. At least not yet. That means that our practical knowledge about this tasty plant is very limited.
For instance, just how long does asparagus last? How to store the veggie properly to extend its shelf life?
These are only some of the questions we are going to answer in this article. So, brace yourself, we are taking off to one exciting culinary journey.
What Is Asparagus In The First Place?
But before we proceed to these practical considerations, let us take some time to get to know this fan-favorite face to face and see what makes it so beneficial.
Well, let us start from the very beginning. Asparagus is your classic perennial with smooth and solid stems that sometimes grow all the way up to 20 centimeters. The very stems pick up the dark green color early on and feature recognizable pointy leaves on the top.
Oh yeah, asparagus also produces small red fruits, but these parts of the plant are not edible. So, pretty standard affair for this type of plant. Why are we so obsessed with asparagus then (besides the very pleasant taste)?
The answer is – powerhouse nutritional content
Nutritional Content And Health Benefits
Yeah, this is the topic where asparagus truly gets to shine. Let us take a look at all the goodies we can find in mere 90 grams of asparagus to see what we are talking about:
- Calories – 20
- Protein – 2.2 grams
- Fat – 0.2 grams
- Fiber – 1.8 grams
- Vitamin C – 12% of the RDI
- Vitamin A – 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin K – 57% of the RDI
- Folate – 34% of the RDI
- Potassium – 6% of the RDI
- Phosphorus – 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin E – 7% of the RDI
Besides these prominent elements, the asparagus also features smaller amounts of zinc, iron, and riboflavin. Wow, that’s a lot of things to process. But that’s why we love asparagus so much.
What’s most important is that this powerful mix of elements creates these equally as powerful benefits.
High Nutritional Value With Very Few Calories Attached
- We are going to deal with the specific properties of the elements we can find in the asparagus further down below. But, even at first glance, we can see this veggie is a real health bomb. And all these perks are coming at the modest price of 20 calories per 90 grams serving. That’s a steal.
Strong Anti-inflammatory Properties
- All the vitamins you can see in the image above are known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. Although it doesn’t pack them all, asparagus is a very rich source of Vitamins C, A, K, and E, which means the veggie should help you hit a pause-aging button and even deal with chronic inflammation.
Asparagus Improves Digestive Health
- If you have read any article about healthy nutrition, you know that a healthy diet is based on quality dietary fiber. Well, just a half cup of asparagus contains roughly 1.8 grams of these beneficial carbs, which makes up approximately 7% of your daily needs. Asparagus is also very rich in insoluble fiber that adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movement.
More Asparagus – Lower Blood Pressure
- We all know that salt skyrockets the blood pressure. Well, recent research indicates that reducing the salt intake while ramping up potassium can help you regulate blood pressure lowering the chance of heart disease and stroke. That shouldn’t be too big of a surprise since potassium earned quite a fame for excreting excessive salt from the body and relaxing the walls of blood vessels.
- We could go on and on with this. Some researches even indicate that the elements that can be found in asparagus can prevent the development of cancer.
- But, you get the idea – asparagus is more than worthy stacking up in your home and preserving for as long as possible. Now, let us finally answer the question of just how long does asparagus last.
The Shelf Life Of Asparagus
This is a tricky question since asparagus can be put away or stored in a number of different conditions. So, without further ado, we will break all of them down for you, and then we will see how these margins can be efficiently stretched.
|Asparagus||–||3 – 5 days||12 months|
|Asparagus with a wet paper towel||–||5 – 7 days||–|
|Asparagus in a jar with water||–||10 – 14 days||–|
|Cooked asparagus||–||3 – 5 days||12 months|
As we can see from the chart, the shelf life of asparagus is all over the place. Leaving the veggie out of the freezer will spoil it in a matter of a day, putting it in the freezer (fresh or cooked) will give you a sweet 12 months to play with it.
But, the refrigerator does its job more than formidably and allows you to stretch out the veggie’s life 10 – 14 days. No, let’s see how to push these numbers to the limits.
How To Store Fresh Asparagus In The Refrigerator
In the table above, we have seen three different ways of storing asparagus in the refrigerator. Out of the three, putting the veggies in the jar with water grants the longest shelf life, so we will focus on this method. And we are going to throw some paper towels in for good measure.
As for simply putting the stalks in the refrigerator without any additional protection, we don’t advise that unless you are going to use them in a day or two. If you really want to go down this path, do your best to, at least, put the stems into an air-tight plastic package (e.g., self-sealing plastic bag).
Now, let’s go back to our jar with water. The first thing we want to point out is that before putting asparagus in the glass, bottle, or any other vessel, the unused stalks shouldn’t be washed or cut into pieces. Just use them the way you bought them into the store.
Is there any preferable position you need to put them into? Yes – you should put them “heads-down” and as upright as possible. That probably means that you will need to clear up some space on the upper shelf.
Finally, the whole point of this excursion was to keep the asparagus fresh and moist while it’s in the fridge? What will we do with the stems that are sticking out? This is the point where paper towels kick-in.
So, make sure that the towels are sufficiently damp and then gently wrap the exposed parts in them. Each stalk should be wrapped separately. And if you want to be absolutely sure you will get your two weeks of fresh and unspoiled asparagus, cover this piece of modern art with the plastic bag before putting the whole thing on the shelf. The veggie still needs some degree of airflow to stay fresh.
Also, change the water if the bag becomes cloudy.
It takes some effort, but it more than pays off. Fresh asparagus can later be cooked and put back into the freezer for an additional five days run of shelf life.
How To Store Cooked Asparagus In The Refrigerator
In this case, things are far simpler than the chore we had to undergo with the fresh stalks. Cooked asparagus has already been thermally processed, and the plant is essentially dead. So, you will gain virtually nothing by putting the veggie into the jar with water or wrapping the stalks into wet paper towels.
The only thing we can do is to keep the bacteria that spoil the food as far from the leftovers as possible. In other words, you need to thoroughly clean the stalks and put them into the self-sealing air-tight plastic bags. Don’t put too many stalks into the same back, so they don’t get pressed too hard against each other.
How To Freeze Asparagus
In this section, we are going to cover both fresh and cooked asparagus since the storage process is pretty much the same. We will break it down for you to a couple of simple steps:
- Preparation – Wash the stalks, trim them and cut into pieces
- Blanching – There is no set time for this, but you should keep the stalks in the boiled water until they pick up a bright green hue.
- Cooldown and drying – Move the stalks into the cold water for a couple of minutes, pull them out, pat them with dry paper towels, and leave them dry for 15-20 minutes.
- Packaging – Divide the asparagus pieces into a couple of portions, put them into the air-tight plastic bags, squeeze out as much air as possible, and finally seal the packages.
All you have to do now is to put the bags into the freezer and wait for your next asparagus rush.
How To Know If Asparagus Has Gone Bad
Last but not least, let us take a look at a couple of ways to know whether the asparagus is still good for use.
First, fresh asparagus stalks are very healthy and strong. When it goes bad, the veggies will become soft and mushy.
Also, all veggies (cooked and fresh) will start picking up black spots all over their stalks. You can cut these parts out, but if there are more bad areas than good, throw the whole stem away.
Finally, rotten asparagus packs that good old acrid smell that gives away its condition.
Read More: How To Tell If Asparagus Is Bad?
We hope you have enjoyed this short exploration of asparagus’s shelf life. This neat veggie is far too beneficial to be ignored and far too expensive to be thrown away. Do your best to keep it fresh and kicking for as long as possible. The benefits you’ll get in return are too numerous to be counted.