You bought asparagus, used half of the spears, and put the rest in storage. And after a day or two, you wonder: how long does asparagus last?
You definitely don’t want it to spoil before you get a chance to use it. Plus it’s an expensive veggie, and you’re a conscious spender.
Or maybe you’ve heard that asparagus has a really short shelf life, and you want to learn what’s the best way to store it so that you put the bunch where it belongs once you get home.
If any of these sound familiar, this article is for you.
In it, we cover:
- how long is asparagus good for in the fridge
- how to pick asparagus at the store
- how to store asparagus, either fresh or cooked
- is freezing asparagus an option?
- telling if your asparagus is bad or not
Let’s get started.
How Long Does Asparagus Last
|Asparagus||3 – 4 days|
|Asparagus with a wet paper towel||5 – 7 days|
|Asparagus in a jar with water||10 – 14 days|
|Cooked asparagus||3 – 5 days|
Fresh raw asparagus lasts 3 to 4 days in the fridge on its own. To get more storage time, you need to either wrap it in a moist paper towel or place it upright in a jar with some water. The former gives you up to a week, while the latter can make asparagus last up to two weeks.
As you can tell, the periods vary significantly depending on how much effort you’re ready to put in when it comes to storage.
If you’re willing to spend a couple of minutes to go the extra mile (more on the techniques in the storage section), you can triple the time asparagus keeps for.
If you need to keep asparagus for longer, freezing is the way to go
Another important factor in helping your asparagus last as long as possible is choosing the best bunch available in the supermarket or grocery store.
Here’s how to pick asparagus at the store:
- choose bunches that have bright green spears that are firm to the touch
- avoid slimy, limp, or darkening asparagus
When it comes to cooked asparagus, it retains quality for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Just like with its uncooked counterpart, freezing is how you preserve it for longer.
How to Store Asparagus
Keep asparagus in the fridge, in an unsealed plastic bag. If you want to store it for longer, wrap the bottoms in a damp paper towel, or place them upright in a jar with some water. Either of those techniques helps asparagus spears retain moisture and quality for much more than they usually do.
When it comes to storing cooked asparagus, transfer the spears to an airtight container, close the lead and refrigerate or freeze.
Those are the basics, let’s talk details.
First, raw asparagus is sold with a rubber band around the bunch. Do not remove the band when you get home. It will help secure the spears in storage.
Second, unlike most veggies, asparagus thrives in a damp environment. That’s why leaving it in a half-open plastic bag is a decent option. The bag helps the bunch retain moisture, but also allows it to breathe.
To help it last longer, you need to supply it with extra moisture, and there are at least two ways of doing that.
The simple solution here is to wrap the bottom of the stalks in a damp (not wet) paper towel and put them back into the bag, leaving it unsealed.
The Best Way To Store Asparagus
If you need the stalks to stay fresh for a week or more, you can try a more sophisticated method of storing the spears in a jar with some water.
To do that, you need a jar or container (or a cup, as you can see in the photo) with about an inch of water.
Place the asparagus upright in that container and loosely cover the top of the stalks with a plastic or freezer bag. Do not secure the bag, just drape it over the bunch. The vegetable still needs some air circulation to keep fresh. Change the water if it gets cloudy.
Does Asparagus Need To Be Refrigerated?
You don’t have to refrigerate asparagus if you’re going to cook it the same day you buy it. But if you need it to retain quality longer than that, putting it in the fridge is definitely in order.
Can You Freeze Asparagus?
Even if you follow the fancy storage methods outlined above, asparagus still does not last that long. And it’s way too pricey to leave it to waste.
Fortunately enough, it freezes fairly well. So if you bought too much on a sale or your plans have changed, and you aren’t able to cook it within a few days of buying, freezing it is the way to go.
How To Freeze Asparagus
This freezing method is quite similar to what I do to freeze broccoli (read more in my article on the storage time of broccoli).
Here’s how you freeze asparagus:
- Prep. Wash, trim and cut the asparagus.
- Blanching. Now it’s time to blanch it. Before you put the asparagus into the boiling water, sort the stalks by thickness. You should blanch small ones for 90 seconds, medium for 120 seconds and thick ones for up to 180 seconds. Generally, each spear should take on a bright green hue after blanching.
- Cooldown. After the boiling period, transfer the stalks into cold water.
- Dry thoroughly. Drain the water, and let the spears dry for 10 – 20 minutes. Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Packaging. Divide the stalks into a few portions if you won’t need them all at once and put each one into a separate freezer bag. Then squeeze as much air out of the bag, and seal it tight. Add a label with a date if you like.
- Freeze the bags.
How to Tell If Asparagus Is Bad?
Discard asparagus if:
- There’s mold. If there’s any fuzzy action on the spears, or there are black spots here and there, that asparagus is no good.
- It’s soft or mushy. The tips usually darken and go limp first, then the stalks go wrinkly. It’s a spectrum, of course – you can use somewhat softish spears, but if slimy residue sets it, they need to go.
- It smells funky. Asparagus doesn’t really smell like much, so if yours develops an off odor, it’s time to let it go. Trust your nose.
Besides the above, your asparagus spears might start to lose color. Discoloration is a sign that they won’t keep for much longer, and it’s best to eat them as soon as possible.
Like with other veggies, you can cut out the bad parts (and some extra), or discard only the spoiled spears and use the rest. However, if most of the stalks are done for, you probably should throw out the whole bunch altogether.
Before cooking the veggie, give it a good whiff. If it doesn’t smell fresh but has a rotten, acrid smell to it, throw it out.