Sure, the warming temperatures and extra hours of sunlight are sweet and all, but one of the best parts about the onset of spring are those first glimpses of asparagus. From the end of February (when the season begins) to about June (when it ends), you'll find these crisp, bright-green stalks in everything from mint-flecked salads to lemony risottos.
But what about those times when asparagus isn't in season? Or when your favorite fresh bundles are in low supply at the market? The solution: freeze it.
Yes, that's right, your trusty freezer is here to save the day again. But that doesn't mean you should just toss a bunch of raw asparagus into the freezer—there are a few (very simple) steps you should take to ensure it maintains maximum freshness and flavor.
First, you'll want to prep the asparagus to get rid of any dirt it may have picked up along its journey from the farm to your kitchen, and trim off those tough ends. Here's an excellent guide (with photos to boot!) on how to prep asparagus, depending on the type of dish you plan to use it for.
Watch: How to make absurdly addictive asparagus
Once your asparagus is all cleaned up, it's on to step two: blanching.
You'll need a few kitchen staples to get going (like a large pot, salt, a strainer, and a bowl filled with ice water), but the process couldn't be simpler: Get a pot of salted water boiling, drop in your asparagus, and cook for about 30 to 60 seconds, then start testing for doneness (if it's still raw-tasting, keep cooking; if it's flabby, get those stalks out ASAP).
To keep the asparagus from over-cooking once it's out of the boiling water, you'll shock it in an ice-water bath (that bowl you filled with ice water). Completely submerge the asparagus and swish things around a bit to make sure everything is evenly distributed. After the asparagus is fully cooked and shocked, dry it very well with paper towels.
On to our third and final step: freezing. There are actually two ways you can do this. The first is to simply pack up the dried, blanched asparagus in freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags (if you use a bag, squeeze out as much air as possible) and store them in the freezer. According to The Spruce Eats, you can also "flash-freeze" them first by laying them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and freezing them for one to two hours before storing in a container (this will help prevent the pieces of asparagus from sticking together).
And just like that, you can have peak spring asparagus at your fingertips any time of the year. All that's left to do is figure out what you want to cook with it. Here are a few ideas...