Jul 6, 2023
The best time to cook asparagus is on the day you bought them. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most perishable vegetables on the planet. It’s highly metabolic, which for a consumer means it loses its flavor quickly after harvesting. It can last for 5 days only in the fridge and decays pretty quickly on your counter, even if placed in a jar of water. Here’s how to freeze-dry asparagus and have almost the same fresh flavor years after you get them.
There are several ways to choose the best asparagus for freeze-drying.
Go for asparagus that’s firm yet tender. Soft, limp ones are almost as bad as hard, tough, woody ones. These don’t have much flavor, and you won’t have a usable product.
Asparagus comes in three colors which also have their own qualities
Whatever color you choose, pick the ones that are uniform throughout the stalk. Asparagus that’s molted or browning should be discarded.
Thin or thick asparagus has different culinary purposes. If you want a “pretty” asparagus, go for thin ones. They also cook quickly, making them perfect for unexpected guests. They’re the variety of choice for steaming and stir-frying.
Thick asparagus stalks are softer than thin ones and can stand up against intense heat better. That’s why they’re ideal for grilling, broiling, blanching, or sautéing.
Choose asparagus that have tight tips. Stalks with the tips starting to open or already open don’t have less flavor and have poor texture.
After washing the asparagus under running water, you must remove the tough ends. The usual practice is to hold the asparagus in both ends and bend it until it snaps. But this leads to too much waste, and you also lose much of the vegetable’s fiber. Instead, try to cut off an inch from the end and taste to see if the end is tender enough. Chip off the end bit by bit until you get the tenderness that you prefer.
After taking out the fibrous ends, you can either leave the asparagus long or cut them. Long stalks give you more options for size and presentation. Short ones are great for quick cooking, but the aesthetics will be off.
Once you’ve prepared them, you can freeze-dry them as is or blanch them. Others find more success in terms of texture after blanching the vegetable. Using a pot with a strainer for this would be easier to easily take out the asparagus after blanching. First, salt the water a touch when it boils, then dunk the strainer with the vegetable for 2 minutes. Afterward, take it out and immediately put the vegetable in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Pre-freezing is an option for freeze-drying asparagus. But just like with blanching, this does affect the reconstituted texture. Some got a soft product when they didn’t pre-froze the vegetable. Others got a good, crunchy vegetable when they did this.
Pre-freezing does cut a significant amount of time in the whole freeze-drying process. It also helps maintain a stable temperature inside the freeze-dryer chamber. If you’re going to pre-freeze, remember to use the same trays you will use for freeze-drying. You can line the trays with parchment paper, too. This will help keep the vegetable from sticking to the tray and make it easy for you to transfer.
Here’s how to freeze dry asparagus using your harvest right freeze dryer. Whether you pre-freeze the stalks or not, it would be great to place the stalks in a neat, organized pile on the trays. Not only will this make your trays easy for the eyes, but it also makes them convenient for bagging later.
Freeze-drying asparagus can take 35-40 hours. This can vary per batch, especially if you didn’t pre-freeze or have other food freeze-drying.
The best way to rehydrate freeze-dried asparagus is to do it in cold water. Especially if you’re going to sauté it or use it on stir fry. It would take about an hour to fully rehydrate, so plan your cooking schedule ahead.
You can use warm water, but that will give you limp asparagus after rehydrating. If you’re going to use freeze-dried asparagus for soups, stews, or dishes with sauces? Put the pieces dry and adjust the water as needed.
We don’t recommend rehydrating in boiling water because this causes a loss of flavor, texture, and, most especially, nutrients.
Mylar bags are great for long-term storage. Also, Mason jars work well if you need freeze-dried asparagus every now and then. Just remember to put 1-2 of the 300cc packs of oxygen absorbers per gallon size container.
Freeze-dried asparagus can last for 25 years or more when properly stored. Keep your storage room at a temp below 72°F (22 °C). The area should also be dim and dry, with a relative humidity of less than 15%.
Where do you plan to use your freeze-dried asparagus? Let us know in the comment section.
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