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Storing asparagus correctly is a great way to keep it fresh and ready for consumption at leisure. Proper storage methods can prevent asparagus from turning woody or tough, and losing its excellent, fresh flavor. If storing asparagus fresh, be sure to use it within about a week, as flavors will begin to diminish significantly over longer periods of time. Storing asparagus long-term can be done by pickling or canning fresh spears.
If asparagus is going to be eaten within 24 hours, it is often easiest to simply place it in a cool part of the refrigerator. For optimum freshness, trim the ends off and store in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Some experts also recommend adding a slightly damp paper towel to the bag, in order to keep the asparagus moist.
Storing asparagus for longer than a day can take a slightly more unusual method. Take a large glass jar and fill it with a few inches of fresh, cold water. Trim the ends of the asparagus with a knife, or simply snap off the ends. Place the asparagus in the jar with the tips pointing upward, and cover the entire jar with a plastic bag. Kept in the refrigerator, this will help keep asparagus fresh and crisp for about a week. Be certain to check the jar every day, and replace the water if it has grown cloudy or muddy.
If presented with an abundance of asparagus in season, it may become impossible to eat all of it before it turns tough. Rather than simply throw out excess stalks, consider storing asparagus for a longer period by using pickling or canning methods. Sterile jars, a boiling water processor or pressure canner, and pickling ingredients are needed for these long term asparagus storing methods.
To can asparagus, sterilize jars and lids, keeping them hot until needed. Wash asparagus stalks and trim them into lengths that will easily fit into the jar, with a small space for headroom. For pickled asparagus, a pickling mixture must be concocted, often using vinegar, garlic, fresh dill, salt, and pepper. The pickling liquid is boiled to create a concentrated flavor, then poured over the asparagus inside the glass jars. Each jar must be carefully wiped with a clean towel to ensure that no trace of liquid remains before sealing the jars.
As with all canned preparations, it is important to reduce health risks by processing pickled or canned asparagus correctly. Use a boiling water processor on the sealed jars, then allow the jars to cool for up to a day. Any jars which do not seal correctly should be discarded, as they may allow a build-up of dangerous bacteria. Pickled asparagus can last for up to a year, if processed correctly, and is a great way to enjoy asparagus year-round.
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