I love asparagus, especially the fresh picked right off the farm kind. We are lucky enough to have a farm close to us that sells asparagus every spring. I planted my own asparagus patch, but you can't harvest for three years after planting...I have one more year of patiently waiting before I can harvest my own tender little stalks. This year I decided to try to save a bit for later in the year, so I decided to bravely freeze fourteen pounds of the tender stuff.
It is a fairly simple process, you need a large pot of boiling water, an ice bath and a clean dry towel set up. I always set my process up in a long line, it seems to make everything go faster if I am not walking back and forth all of the time. You will also need parchment or wax paper, cookie sheets, and gallon sized zip top freezer bags.
Here's how to do it:
1. Wash and clean the fresh asparagus.
2. Trim the bottoms, I usually cut about an inch off, if it's really fresh there is no need to cut off more than that.
3. Dunk the asparagus in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, or until it turns bright green, it really shouldn't take longer than 30 seconds.
4. Dunk the asparagus in the ice bath. This cools the stalks rapidly and helps them keep their bright green color. It also stops the cooking process so that the asparagus doesn't get mushy (there is nothing worse than mushy asparagus!)
5. Lay the stalks out on the dry towel to dry.
6. After the stalks are fairly dry, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, lay the asparagus on the parchment in a single row, so that it is not overlapping. Cover with another layer of parchment and place in the freezer to flash freeze.
7. After it is frozen, remove it from the pans and place in ziplock-type bags. The stalks should be easy to separate, so you can just reach into the bag grab a handful and get onto steaming or grilling. Just remember that your steaming time is going to be a lot less with the frozen asparagus because you already par boiled it prior to freezing.
It's so easy, and I am thrilled at the idea of having such wonderful asparagus later in the year instead of just for a few weeks in the spring!