Skip to Content

Can Asparagus Go Bad?

Asparagus is one of the more expensive veggies and is in season for only a couple of months every year. So it’s no wonder that you want to make the most out of it every time you buy it. But it’s easy for asparagus to get lost in the crisper drawer the day you’ve bought it only to find it a couple of days later. Can asparagus go bad?

Or maybe asparagus is on sale, and you always try to take advantage of a good deal. The spears are still green and firm, so you’re thinking about buying a few bunches. But before you stock up on the veggie, you want to know how long you can keep it in storage before it spoils. Or what’s the best way to store it, so that it lasts the longest.

If any of those questions sound familiar, you’re in the right place. Below we go through signs of spoilage, storage practices, and how long asparagus stays fresh. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Can Asparagus Go Bad? How To Tell If Asparagus Went Bad?

Like all veggies, asparagus goes bad; there’s no doubt about it. When it comes to signs of spoiled asparagus, look for the usual suspects:

  • mold (white fuzzy layer, most often on the buds)
  • rot (spears or buds turned black)
  • unpleasant odor
  • slimy or super limp spears

If either one is present, it’s time for the veggie to go.

Besides those, some symptoms inform that the veggie is not that fresh anymore:

  • spears and buds lightening in color, going from vibrant green to pale green
  • the bottom of the spear losing firmness (a fresh spear has an almost wood-like base)
  • spears becoming somewhat limp and mushy

While those don’t mean the veggie is unsafe to eat, they tell you clearly that its time is running out. And if you still want to eat it, it’s now or never. Such asparagus isn’t at the peak of its quality, but at least in my opinion, it’s still good enough for eating. Especially if you’re going to cook or steam it, which is most likely the case. Cooked asparagus is quite soft either way, so there won’t be that much of a difference if you start with somewhat limp stalks. In short, it’s up to you if you use it or discard it.

How Long Does Asparagus Last?

Coked asparagus lasts about five days in the fridge in an airtight container.

When it comes to fresh asparagus, its shelf life depends entirely on how you store it.

If you leave it on the counter or in the pantry, it starts deteriorating in quality within two days and becomes useless after about five days.

When it comes to storing it in the fridge, it can retain freshness there for between 5 and 14 days. Once again, it all depends on the way you store it, and if you can be bothered with extra steps to make it last as long as possible. Let’s talk about those storage practices, then.

How To Store Fresh Asparagus?

You already know that the optimal place for storing asparagus is the fridge. You should leave the bunch wrapped with rubber bands it came with. The bands keep the bunch together and make it easy to move the veggies around.

When it comes to ways in which you can refrigerate asparagus, there are at least three of them:

  • The usual way. Just throw it in the vegetable drawer and call it a day. Good enough for the veggie to last about five days in good quality.
  • Wrapped in wet paper towels ([ETS]). Wrap the bottom of the stalks in wet paper towels so that they will stay fresh for a few days longer. This way the asparagus should be good for 5 to 7 days, sometimes even longer.
  • Stalks in water ([KT]). Paper towels eventually dry out, and this method avoids this issue altogether. Instead, you submerge the bottom of the stalks in cold water and cover the top with a freezer bag. This method allows you to store the asparagus for 10 to even 14 days without much change in quality. It’s a bit time consuming, though, because besides the initial prep, you need to change the water every couple of days or when it gets cloudy.

As you can see, the more work you’re willing to do, the longer you can store the asparagus. If you plan on finishing the whole bunch in a couple of days, I don’t think it makes sense to bother with submerging in water or using paper towels, though. But if even the longest mentioned storage period is too short for your needs, it’s time to think about freezing.

Green asparagus on pink background
(credit: joah brown)

Can You Freeze Asparagus?

Asparagus freezes quite well. Of course, it sure won’t stay firm after freezing and thawing, but neither it does after cooking, so that’s not that big a deal. The whole freezing process involves blanching and is super similar to freezing broccoli. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Prep the asparagus. Wash the stalks and cut them up so that you will easily use them for cooking when the time comes. If you do that now, you won’t need to take care of that later.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  3. Prepare a cold bath for the veggie. A bowl or sink with cold water should do the job. Add ice cubes for bonus points.
  4. Drop the cut asparagus into boiling water and let it cook for between 90 seconds (for thin pieces) and 3 minutes (for very thick ones).
  5. Transfer the spears into the cold bath, and leave them there for a few minutes, so the cooking process stops.
  6. Drain the veggies thoroughly. I usually lay them on a kitchen towel for about 15 minutes, then remove any remaining water drops with a towel.
  7. Portion the pieces into freezer bags. Each bag should have as much as you need for a single dish, to ensure easy freezing. Label the bags if you want to.
  8. Freeze the prepared bags.

If you freeze a couple of bunches of asparagus, you can do it in batches. Just make sure the water is boiling before you drop in another batch, and that you keep the cold bath cold.

When it comes to defrosting, you can do it overnight in the fridge, or add the veggies frozen if it works for the dish you’re prepping.

In a Nutshell

  • Mold, rot, slimy spears, or an off smell are sure signs the asparagus is bad. If the spears are bland in color, or not as rigid as they used to, it’s up to you if you use the veggie or discard it.
  • Cooked asparagus lasts about five days in the fridge closed tightly.
  • Store fresh asparagus in the crisper drawer for about five days. Wrap the bottom of the stalks in wet paper towels to get a few more days of good quality, or submerge the bottoms in water to get up to 14 days of storage.
  • If you need to store asparagus for the long term, freeze it.