Whether you plan to eat it tonight or a few days from now, asparagus needs to be stored properly to have the best flavor and texture.
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Bunches of Asparagus Sprigs Standing Upright
Credit: Getty Images

Asparagus is a quick and timeless side dish. Sure, it's most abundant in spring, when it grows fresh and vibrant in many farms and backyard gardens, but you can buy asparagus nearly year-round, no matter where you are.

But whether you buy asparagus in April from the famers' market or in December at the grocery store, you'll need to take steps to ensure asparagus stays fresh from the moment you buy it until you're ready to cook it in an asparagus soup, an asparagus quiche, or any other asparagus recipe.

Here, learn how to store fresh asparagus so it's as vibrant as the moment you bought it. Plus, find out how long you can expect asparagus stored in the fridge to last.

How to Store Asparagus Short-Term

If you're planning to cook the asparagus you just bought tonight or tomorrow, you can store the asparagus in the fridge with a damp wrap for moisture. Here's what to do as soon as you get home:

1. Wet a paper towel or tea towel, and wring it mostly dry. It should still be damp but not dripping.

2. Wrap the asparagus in the wet towel, and place it inside a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator.

3. Store the bag with asparagus in the fridge's vegetable or crisper drawer. Use within 24 hours.

This is also a good method if you don't have room for the standing asparagus storage technique outlined next.

The Best Way to Store Asparagus and Keep It Fresh

If you're not planning to use it right away, store the asparagus the same way you would fresh flowers: in a jar with water. This way, the stalks can absorb moisture all the way to their crowns, keeping the entire length of the asparagus spear crisp and vibrant. Here's the best way to store asparagus:

1. As soon as you get home, trim one inch off the asparagus bottoms. Discard the ends.

Tip: To make trimming easier, keep the asparagus secured in the rubber bands they come in from the market. They'll hold the spears tight so you can cut through the woody ends in one swift motion.

2. Add about one inch of water to a large jar. Place the spears in the water. You can remove the rubber band here.

3. Cover the standing asparagus spears with a large plastic bag. (You do not want it to be tight fitting over the asparagus.) Refrigerate about to three to five days.

4. Change the water in the jar when it turns cloudy. The key to fresh asparagus is clean, fresh water. Murky water won't be helpful for the spears.

What to Look for When Buying Asparagus

Cooking and serving fresh asparagus relies on you buying fresh asparagus. Hopefully, grocery stores have their asparagus bundles standing in water, much as you'll do when you get the vegetable home. But before you buy, inspect your bundle for the following traits:

  • firm stems from end to tip
  • vibrant apple green color, free of blemishes or dark spots
  • tight buds (also called asparagus crowns)
  • snappy, tight stems that don't easily bend
  • healthy, vibrant ends, instead of dry, woody bottoms

Tips for Storing Fresh Asparagus in the Fridge

Once you get the asparagus in a jar, there are a few other things to keep in mind:

1. Keep it cool, not freezing. Fridges have cold spots where the temps may get close to freezing, usually at the top shelf or near where cold air is pumped into the appliance. Keep asparagus out of these areas. If the asparagus freezes, it will turn mushy when thawed.

2. Change the water. As mentioned, you don't want asparagus spears languishing in murky water. The moment the water in the jar looks cloudy, get fresh water. While you have the asparagus in hand, look for signs of changing condition. These include blemishes on the stalks or buds that are dropping. An acrid smell indicates the asparagus is no longer good.

3. Don't overcrowd the jar. Give asparagus some room to breathe. If you have a small jar and a big bundle, consider splitting the bundle into two jars.

Asparagus with Cheese Sauce and Herb Breadcrumbs
Credit: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

How to Store Cooked Asparagus

Now that you kept your raw asparagus fresh enough to cook, you may have a few leftover spears you want to save for another meal. Place any leftover asparagus in an airtight container. Save for two to three days in the refrigerator.

Leftover asparagus is rarely as vibrant and crisp as freshly-cooked asparagus, but it still tastes delicious. If you have a lot, consider chopping the asparagus and adding it to a quiche.

Common Questions About Storing Asparagus

Does asparagus need to be refrigerated?

Yes, asparagus should be refrigerated as soon as you get home from the store, whether you're storing it in a bag or in a jar. Otherwise, the stalks might brown quickly and turn moldy.

How long does asparagus last in the fridge?

Asparagus will stay fresh up to five days when placed in a jar with water and covered loosely by a plastic bag.

Do I need to wash asparagus before storing it in the fridge?

No, it's better to wash asparagus right before you plan to cook it or prepare it. Washing it early could invite moisture, which can lead to molding.

Can you store asparagus in the freezer?

You can, but you shouldn't freeze fresh asparagus. You should instead blanch the asparagus first before freezing it. Learn how to freeze asparagus so you can save any extra spears you may have.

How can you tell if asparagus has gone bad?

Asparagus spears that are no longer good to eat will be pliable and limp. They may also look slightly shriveled and dry. The asparagus crowns will have spread out and turned mushy.