Lets start with when you should be blanching asparagus and what the process does.
Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must before freezing vegetables and also before drying them. It is used to slow down enzyme action in the vegetable which are associated with both the growing process and, in harvested produce, with loss of colour, flavour and texture. By exposing the vegetable to boiling water any surface dirt or organisms are cleansed and vitamin loss is reduced.
There is a fine balance. Too short a period in the boiling water and the food is just warmed enough to accelerate the activity of the enzymes rather than slow them down. Too long in the boiling water and the vegetable will lose nutritional value, structure, colour and taste. Timing is therefore very important.
The best results for blanching asparagus will be achieved by boiling. (Some foods can be blanched by steaming but this is not recommended for asparagus).
1. It is important to use sufficient water such that when the asparagus is immersed in the boiling water it comes back to the boil within one minute. One gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables is recommended. So if you are using a large (not huge) saucepan you will probably get about 2 pints of water boiling (just under ¼ gallon) which you can then use for ¼ pound of asparagus (about 6-8 spears).
2. Have to hand a large bowl of iced water or cold water and running cold water to run over the blanched asparagus as it cools.
3. Also have ready clean freezer containers or sealable plastic bags.
4. Rinse the asparagus spears in fresh water to clean off any loose sand or grit, cut or snap the woody ends of.
5. Bring the water to the boil.
6. With the heat still on high immerse the asparagus in the boiling water so that it comes back to the boil as quickly as possible.
7. Boil the asparagus for 2,3 or 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. (2 minutes for thin, 3 for medium, 4 for fat).
8. Remove from the boiling water and immerse straight away in the iced or cold water. You need to stop the cooking process as quickly as possible to preserve the asparagus’ texture.
9. When the blanched asparagus spears are cold dry on kitchen paper and pack in airtight freezer containers or freezer bags.
10. Place in the freezer immediately.
11. Alternatively you could freeze the spares spread out on baking trays and then pack in bags / containers.
The blanched spears will keep in the freezer for about 7 months. That should just about get you through to next year’s season!
The easiest way to cook Asparagus!
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Basics of how to cook fresh asparagusstart by looking at How to Cook Asparagus first for some background information on a range of cooking methods.
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