Try dehydrating asparagus next time you have some to save
I love to buy food in bulk and luckily I have a reliable source for fresh fruits and vegetables. This helps me get variety into my food storage. Last week’s bulk buy was 20 pounds of asparagus for $1.40 a pound. Unfortunately, we had to go out of town unexpectedly and I needed a quick way to “put it up”. What to do? I decided to try dehydrating asparagus.
In the past, I’ve cut up my asparagus and placed them in handy meal size servings. Then they went in the freezer. I also pickled asparagus earlier this year, but I’m the only one that eats it pickled and I have enough to last until next season.
I could have chosen these methods again, but the time it took me to wash, dry and cut the asparagus is the same no matter which method I’m using.
Dehydrating asparagus allowed me to do the prep, lay them out and walk away.
I looked in my trusty Blue Book Guide to Preserving (Amazon) for directions, which are somewhat cryptic:
“Choose young, tender stalks. Wash; cut off tough end. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Blanch 3 to 4 minutes. Dry at 125 degrees until brittle. Rehydrate and serve in soups or with seasoned cream sauce. Water content 92%”
Here’s the process for dehydrating asparagus:
Wash the asparagus and cut off the tough ends.
Cut the stalks into one inch(ish) pieces. I wasn’t very exact about this.
Blanch in a rolling hot water bath for 3 minutes. The timer is started from the time they are boiling, not when you put them in the water. After 3 minutes, place them into ice water to stop the cooking process.
Lay them out in single layers in your dehydrator. If you have the kind with adjustable trays, you may want to rotate them around after 6 hours or so. I moved the ones closest to the heat to the top and shuffled the rest around. This picture is after about 3 hours, you can see that the thinner pieces are shrinking up.
12 hours later I have dehydrated asparagus, ready to go into my cupboards for storage. I’ve used my FoodSaver to take the oxygen out of the jars so they will stay fresh.
TIP: If you sort your pieces onto trays by thickness, there will be less work. The thick ones take longer to dry, and at the end, I was picking finished pieces out of the trays.
How to use Dehydrated Asparagus
Use enough water to cover the asparagus; soak for 15-20 minutes. The tips will become tender and plump up really well. I determined during my “official” taste test that they will be perfect for cooking! The stalks puff up but remain (somewhat) tough.
You can use it whole in soups and stews, just be sure to add additional water to your recipe, which will be needed for rehydration. Rather than putting dry pieces in the soup pot, I think I will re-hydrate first and then put them in. That way there won’t be any adjustments that need to be made in your recipe.
Grind it into a powder and use it as a vegetable base for soups. A coffee grinder works well for this purpose. If you are making a cream soup, you might want to sift it (you can tell I didn’t) to get some of those stubborn stalk pieces out!
If you find yourself with the enviable dilemma of having too much produce and not enough time, dehydrating asparagus is another preservation method worth trying. I’m off to make soup!