Do you love asparagus in the spring, but hate the prices the rest of the year? Learn how to dehydrate asparagus spears with this tutorial.
Although it may be cold outside on this late winter day, spring will soon arrive and the season for asparagus will be here. Look for fresh asparagus in the supermarket from February to June, with April being the peak of the season and the time when it will be at the best prices.
In the past, I had a reliable source for fresh fruits and vegetables, but since we’ve moved to Texas I no longer have that option. What I do instead is purchase at the peak of the season when this delicious vegetable can be had for around $1 a pound.
Then we stock up!
This buying trick helps me to get a variety of fruit and vegetables on my pantry shelves throughout the whole year. The easiest way to preserve extra asparagus is to blanch and freeze it, but today we’re going to take a look at how to dehydrate it.
I have started several asparagus patches over the years. See how to plant asparagus so you have your own harvest each year.
Dehydrating asparagus allows me to do the time-consuming preparation, lay the pieces out on dehydrator trays and walk away until they are completely dry. It’s almost as easy as freezing but it makes room in the freezer for precious space we can use for meat.
The Ball Blue Book gives these general directions for drying asparagus:
“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 spears
- Wash the asparagus and cut off the tough ends.
- Remove the tough ends and set them aside.
- Cut the remaining stalks into one to two-inch pieces. You don’t have to be exact about it.
- Once you are done with the cutting, separate your pieces into three types of spears – (1) the tender tips (2) the remaining stalk (3) the ends you removed. Set these aside to be treated separately.
- Blanch each of the cut piece types separately 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 the pieces into ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Lay them out, by type, in single layers on your dehydrator trays. Each of these types of asparagus stalk will dry at different rates. Taking the time at the beginning of the processing makes it easier to remove single trays when they are finished.
Dehydrate at 125°F according to the time schedule below.
You’ll know your asparagus spears are completely dry when they are very crisp. No amount of moisture will be seen when you squeeze a piece or when you cut it open.
- Dehydrate asparagus tips for 6 to 8 hours.
- Dehydrate middle stalks for 8 to 12 hours
- Dehydrate tough asparagus ends for 10 to 14 hours
Storing Dehydrated Asparagus
First, take those tough, stalk ends that you dried and turn them into powder for use in soup and as a thickener in recipes. While they are too tough to eat in their natural state, they are still full of flavor. It is done the same way as when making powder from fresh greens, except you will need to run them through the food processor and mesh screen several times. Those stalks are tough!
Next, store the dehydrated spears and tips in canning jars with tight-fitting lids, or place them in FoodSaver bags. Whichever method you choose for storage, make sure the pieces are completely dry. Store them in a cool dark place – your pantry shelves are perfect.
How to use dehydrated asparagus spears
To rehydrate asparagus spears:
- Add the dried pieces to a bowl and use hot water to completely cover the asparagus.
- Soak them for 15 to 20 minutes. They may not use all of the water, so drain it off or add the remainder to your recipe.
- Remember, the tips will become tender and plump up really well, while the stalks will take a bit longer.
You can use these rehydrated asparagus pieces in your morning eggs or in a frittata recipe, really, anything that calls for cooking the asparagus will work. They also work well then used whole in soups and stews, and there is no need to rehydrating them, just be sure to add additional water to your recipe.