Is your asparagus looking like it's best days are long gone? Follow the tips in this post on when to toss and when to keep your asparagus.
Some foods are extremely easy to tell when they go bad.
Mold on strawberries. Nope, toss out.
Potatoes turned green. No thank you.
Banana 100% completely black. Not even good for bread anymore.
What about asparagus? When it is not really usable anymore.
I am going to talk about all the things that could go wrong with your asparagus and if you can still use it. I know we have all forgotten about something in the back of the fridge and we feel real bad about wasting food. I am hoping after you read this you will waste less food and not feel guilty.
Keep in mind these are my best recommendations, it's up to you to make the final call. If you don't feel comfortable with saving something then I would rather you error on the side of caution.
Asparagus is Moldy
If your asparagus has gone moldy on you, you have some storage issues. Have you keep your asparagus wrapped up tightly in a plastic bag?
The bag holds moisture next to the asparagus, giving mold a great chance to grow. Although this doesn't happen nearly as fast as it does with something like say strawberries - how many times have you picked up a case of moldy strawberries at the grocery store?
If your asparagus has got mold in it, it's time to go. Sorry. The only thing I will eat that has mold on it is cheese.
Verdict - Throw It Out! (or compost it)
Asparagus Tips are Soggy or Slimy
No one wants soggy tips. That might be the worse.
The asparagus tips are the best part of the asparagus. That is why when I make my asparagus pesto that tips don't get blended it, they get mixed in whole.
Moisture is again the reason for the asparagus decline. Sometimes the bundle is tied too tight. Often this happens more with smaller tips.
Not all is lost. I have often found that the rest of the asparagus is sometimes able to be used still by sacrificing the tips. It's a hard sacrifice to make.
It's best to cut off the tips as soon as you can before the rest of the asparagus becomes unusable as well.
Verdict - Cut off the tips and use the rest
Asparagus Stalks are Wrinkly
This is the number one thing I see when asparagus is heading south. It begins to get wrinkles in it.
Even with the best storage techniques this will eventually happen to your asparagus if you don't eat it.
Can you still eat it when it's wrinkly? Sure. The texture may not be as perfect and the asparagus will be more starchy. You could include it in a soup. Or I have even roasted it as this point and still it was not terrible.
Steaming I would avoid. I think it will become too soft to be enjoyable.
Verdict - Roast it or Make stock or soup
Asparagus Turns Yellow
Never seen this happen. Ever. Well maybe I have seen the tips get a little yellow, but if your stalks are yellow too, then I guess congratulations is in order. Asparagus isn't a vegetable like spinach, broccoli, or kale that will go yellow when bad.
Verdict - I don't know how you did it. Please take a photo and tag me on Instagram
Asparagus is Limp
The asparagus may look fine at a glance but then you grab it as it's a limp as a wet noodle. I would say that the same principles of wrinkly asparagus apply here.
Verdict - Roast it or Make stock or soup
Asparagus Smells Bad
Fresh asparagus doesn't have an odor. If yours does, trust your sniffer and get rid of.
Verdict - Trash or compost
How Long Does Asparagus Last?
This depends a lot on how fresh it was to begin with. If you bought it from the farmer's market and it was picked that morning or the day before I could see it being your fridge for a couple weeks and be fine.
The asparagus at the grocery store unless it's local may have traveled across state lines or even international borders. So for that I would say if you don't plan to use it in 5 days from purchase, your better off waiting to buy it.
Check out all the posts in our Toss or Keep series
How to Keep It Fresh
The first thing you need to know is that asparagus should be treated like a flower.
What do you do to keep cut flowers around as long as possible. You put them in a vase with water. The same thing you do with asparagus.
Any good grocery store will store their asparagus upright in water, you should continue to do so when you get home.
Place the asparagus in any kind of vessel with enough water to cover the bottom inch or two of the asparagus. And then place in your fridge.
Some people suggest removing the rubber bands and I admit I haven't always done that. I don't find it to be a problem, I kind of like keeping the bunch together. Remove them if you like.
Store this way, I think you can easily store it for 5 days without compromising the quality. Still best to eat as soon as you can as with any vegetable.
Cook It and Use it Later
If you are buying asparagus and need it for a meal down the road, you could always cook it right away and then store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. I have done this before, especially when I am using the asparagus as an ingredient like in a quiche.
Practice Food Safety
Remember to always practice food safety. If you don't feel comfortable with eating it, then I would rather you error on the side of caution then you end up getting sick.