What to Look For
Straight spears, green-tinged with purple on the bracts and tightly closed tips. Spears with open or feathered tips decay more rapidly.
Spears should snap before reaching a 90° angle without bending into a U-shape.
- 0°C - 2°C
- 95 - 100% Relative Humidity
Fresh asparagus is highly perishable and quality will quickly deteriorate if stored above 5°C. It will also gain a bitter taste and lose it's vitamin C content.
At 2°C asparagus can generally last 14-21 days. At 0°C asparagus can last around 10 days, but any longer puts them at risk for chilling injury.
Storage at temperatures above 10°C causes the spears to toughen. High relative humidity prevents the asparagus from losing moisture and glossiness. Asparagus is often shipped in boxes lined with oily paper and a water-saturated pad on the butt end to maintain optimal humidity.
Freezing injury occurs when asparagus is stored at -0.6°C or lower, leaving it with a water-soaked appearance and an extremely soft texture.
Response to Ethylene
Exposure to ethylene causes asparagus spears to toughen up and gain a "woody" texture. In botany this process is called lignification.