Eating locally and seasonally as much as possible are two of my major food tenets. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. So, to extend the season of locally-grown veggies, we've decided to try freezing some this spring/summer. We probably won't have enough of a harvest of our own, so our plan is to buy an excess of vegetables at local farmer's markets when they are available instead. This year we'll start off relatively small and see how it goes. Hopefully we'll be eating local produce in January.
Since we are currently in asparagus season and since all four of us thoroughly enjoy good asparagus, asparagus seems like a good place to start this little endeavor. Our personal asparagus patch is only in its second year and, even though we really wanted to, we did not harvest any this year. However, there is plenty of local asparagus available. So, with freezing in mind, we bought 6 pounds of asparagus from Four Town Farm (yes, only 6 lbs - I said we were starting small). After doing a bit of research online (this pdf from Iowa State is particularly useful), our freezing process went like this:
1) Sort the spears into three rough size classes - small, medium, and large. Cut or snap off the bottom inch or two.
2) Blanch small portions in boiling water - 2 minutes for small spears, 3 minutes for medium spears, and 4 minutes for the large spears.
3) Shock the asparagus in ice water - 2 minutes for small spears, 3 minutes for medium spears, and 4 minutes for the large spears.
4) Dry the asparagus
5) Bag the asparagus in appropriate-sized portions and freeze.
Simple as that.
I had never done this before, so I was sort of flying blind. I'm a bit worried that I blanched the asparagus for too long, even though I followed the 2,3,4 minutes guide. They seemed pretty well cooked to my taste, so I think I'll have to be careful not to overcook them come January.