Benefits of Canned Asparagus vs. Fresh Asparagus (Nutrition, Cost & Shelf Life)

We love asparagus in our house. Fresh, frozen, canned…yes, we eat canned asparagus.

There was a time when canned vegetables were viewed as second-class when compared to fresh, but the reality is, canned asparagus has a lot of benefits and can provide a delicious side to your lunch or dinner. 

In general, you can expect canned asparagus to follow the USDA standards of quality, meaning that that canned asparagus is safe to eat and free of contaminants or toxins. Additionally, the USDA has added guidelines on the quality of various types of canned asparagus. You can generally purchase “Fancy,” “U.S. Grade C or Standard” rated canned asparagus, and find inside nutritious asparagus that tastes good and has a decent texture.

In terms of nutrition quality and flavor, canned asparagus can have excellent levels of both. It just depends on the brand and rating.

Generally, “Fancy” grade canned asparagus will have the best flavor and nutritional value, though “Standard” levels will have decent amounts of nutrition, too.

Canned asparagus provides about 50% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, 30% of folate, and some riboflavin.

Breaking Down The Quality Of Canned Asparagus

The USDA has strict guidelines on how inspectors rate canned asparagus. They break their ratings down into three levels.

Fancy Canned Asparagus

The rating of “Fancy” applies to any canned asparagus that has good flavor and possesses a clear liquid.

Additionally, the asparagus is free of defects or imperfections and has a good texture.

Standard Canned Asparagus

Standard or “C” level canned asparagus must have a decent flavor, texture, and have few defects. It needs to have a relatively clear liquid, too. 

Substandard Canned Asparagus

Substandard canned asparagus fails to comply with USDA guidelines, and you should not purchase it if you come across unrated or substandard asparagus

Purchasing Canned Asparagus vs. Fresh Asparagus

There are some key differences between canned asparagus and fresh asparagus, but for the most part, their purchase generally relies on preference. 

Canned Asparagus Can Have Better Nutritional Quality

It may come as a surprise, but canned asparagus can have better nutritional quality than fresh asparagus.

Granted, it’s usually thought that fresh veggies have the best amounts of vitamins and minerals, but that’s actually incorrect.

You see, canned asparagus is canned almost immediately after picking, meaning that the asparagus you consume from a can was stored at its peak nutritional content. The preservation process keeps most of those nutrients around for you to consume. 

Fresh asparagus, on the other hand, can sit for a week or two while traveling to grocery store shelves.

For every day that it remains uneaten, the asparagus loses some of its nutritional value.

Canned Asparagus Lasts Longer Than Fresh Asparagus

Canned asparagus undergoes a preservation process that prevents bacteria, mold, and pathogens from growing in the vegetables.

Additionally, canned asparagus has a nearly indefinite shelf-life thanks to the preservation process.

Conversely, fresh asparagus only lasts about a week in your home refrigerator. As it ages, the asparagus can grow mold, become soggy, or lose its flavor.

Fresh Asparagus Can Have Lower Sodium

One downside to a lot of canned asparagus products is their high sodium levels. Fresh asparagus comes without added sodium or preservatives, so it’s naturally better for those watching their sodium intake.

Canned Asparagus Is More Affordable Than Fresh

When it comes to dollars and dimes, canned asparagus is easier on the wallet than fresh.

Fresh asparagus typically ranges anywhere from $1.75 to $2.50 a pound, whereas you can usually buy a pound of canned asparagus for $1 or less. 

Canned Asparagus Require Less Prep Time To Cook

Canned asparagus generally comes pre-cut, and its preservation process means that you just have to rinse the asparagus before cooking it.

Fresh asparagus usually needs a thorough washing to prevent listeria or e.coli contamination, and you’ll generally have to slice and chop it yourself to avoid eating tough stalks.

Texture and Flavor Canned Asparagus

Texture And Flavor Canned Asparagus vs. Fresh

Canned asparagus can have a more diluted flavor than fresh asparagus, mainly because the preservation process can leech out some of the flavors into the can’s liquid.

However, the diluted flavor isn’t enough to make canned asparagus taste too much different from fresh asparagus.

In terms of richness of flavor, fresh will typically have the stronger, earthy notes of asparagus.

Good quality canned asparagus retains a smooth, flexible stalk without becoming slimy or limp. 

Substituting Canned Asparagus For Fresh: Do’s and Dont’s

You can substitute canned asparagus for fresh in many recipes. However, fresh works best if you plan to oven-fry or pan sear asparagus.

Canned asparagus maintains a high moisture count and does not dry or crisp out well compared to fresh asparagus. 

However, recipes calling for boiled, chopped, or steamed asparagus canned are an excellent alternative.

You can season and prepare canned asparagus without making any alterations to the original recipe.

Picking The Best Canned Asparagus

If you’re ready to give canned asparagus a try, you’ll want to shop for the best quality product you can.

Remember, “Fancy” canned asparagus will have the best flavor and texture, as well as the best nutritional content. To find the best quality canned asparagus, follow these tips:

1.Find The USDA Rating On The Jar

The USDA rating of “Fancy” or “Standard” should be available for you to see on the can.

If you can’t find the rating, look up the brand on the internet and find out what their asparagus rating is. For the best quality, only buy “fancy” rated canned asparagus. 

2.Check The Sodium Count

Look for canned asparagus with lower levels or reduced levels of sodium. Lower sodium is easier on the body and healthier in the long run.

3.Investigate The Additional Ingredients

Check the label for any additional ingredients. Avoid canned asparagus with additives like sugar or oils. The best types of canned asparagus usually only contain water, salt, and asparagus.

4.Investigate The Can Structure

You’ll want to purchase cans or glass jars of asparagus with no visible signs of damage. If you see bent, dented, or cracked areas on the can, don’t purchase it. 

A Note On The Danger Of Damaged Cans

You should never purchase damaged cans of asparagus. Rust, dents, and other damages can point to the presence of bacteria known to cause botulism.

Botulism can lead to a terrible case of food poisoning, which in severe cases can cause death.

5.Look For Clear Liquids

Canned asparagus should have a clear liquid—the clearer the liquid, the better quality of the asparagus.

If you can, look for glass containers of canned asparagus and purchase the asparagus with the clearest liquid.

Health Benefits Of Canned Asparagus 

Canned asparagus provides countless health benefits to humans. It’s great for individuals with restricted diets like diabetics, individuals with thyroid issues, or people looking to lose weight.

Asparagus is so healthy that you can even give it to your dogs as a treat while they are teething without worrying about their stomach.

Some of the benefits of canned asparagus include:

High Vitamin K Count

A single serving of canned asparagus provides 51% of the body’s daily requirement of Vitamin K. If you consume an extra serving, you’ve reached your body’s required daily amount.

Low Carb

Canned asparagus has only 3 carbs per serving.

Low Sodium

Provided you purchase low sodium canned asparagus, it can provide a delicious, low sodium side for lunches and dinner.

Low Sugar

A serving of asparagus only has 1 to 2 grams of sugar.

Low Fat

Canned asparagus containing only water, salt, and asparagus is low fat. A single serving contains less than 1 gram of fat.

Nutritional Facts of Canned Asparagus

Here’s a breakdown of nutritional information in Del Monte Canned Asparagus, one of the more popular brands of canned asparagus.

Serving Size.05 Cup% DV
Total Fat0 g0%
Saturated Fat0.0 g0%
Trans Fat0.0 g0%
Cholesterol0.0 mg0%
Sodium360 mg15%
Total Carbohydrate 4 g1%
Dietary Fiber3 g11%


0 grams Added Sugars 

1 gN/A
Protein2 g 
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium20 mg2%
Potassium110 mg3%
Vitamin D 0.00mcg9%

Flavor Quality Of Canned Asparagus

One reason people hesitate to buy canned asparagus is their concern over flavor and texture.

Because the USDA rates canned asparagus based on texture and quality, you can generally expect decent-tasting asparagus when you crack open a can.

In terms of best flavor, “Fancy” rated canned asparagus will have the best one for stand-alone asparagus dishes.

However, “Standard” asparagus will have a decent flavor, and it works great for soups or stir-fries that mix flavors together.

Canned Vegetable Substitutes For Asparagus

If you don’t like the taste or texture of canned or fresh asparagus, you can substitute it with a few other vegetables that have a milder flavor. 

Canned VegetableTexture/FlavorWhen To Substitute
Canned Asparagus  
Canned Green BeansSlight crunch, mild flavorBraised or boiled recipes
Canned Pickled LeeksSlight crunch, mild and sweet flavorSoups or stir fry
Canned PeasSlightly mushy, sweet flavorAny asparagus recipe
Canned Pickled OkraGelatinous texture. Mellow, grassy flavorSoups or stir fry

Eating Canned Asparagus Straight Out of the Can

Because the canning process involves extreme pressurization that kills off bacteria in canned food, you can eat canned asparagus straight from the can.

However, you should not eat any canned vegetables with signs of damage to the can. Damaged cans allow bacteria to invade the food, making it unsafe to eat, especially when uncooked.

Note that while you can eat canned asparagus uncooked, it will taste like raw asparagus and if you don’t like raw veggies, you won’t like cold, straight-from-the-can asparagus.

The Shelf-Life Of Canned Asparagus

One great thing about canned asparagus is its exceedingly long shelf-life. Technically, canned asparagus does not have an expiration date.

Instead, it usually has a “Best By” date that tells you when the manufacturer recommends you consume the asparagus by to ensure the best quality of flavor.

Theoretically, you can keep canned asparagus indefinitely, according to the USDA. However, the USDA does note that the longer you keep canned vegetables, the more likely they are to lose their flavor and consistency. Additionally, nutritional values deplete the longer vegetables remain canned.

When it comes to keeping canned asparagus in the pantry, you should try to use it within eighteen months of purchase for optimal flavor and texture.

If you don’t mind a slightly lesser quality of flavor, you can keep the canned asparagus for two to five years before it loses its best qualities.

Storage Tips For Canned Asparagus

Keep At Or Below Room Temperature

The USDA recommends that canned vegetables like asparagus remain stored in a cool, dry place like a kitchen pantry. 

Toss Out Damaged Cans

Additionally, the USDA notes that you should never keep canned asparagus that has signs of damage to the container, like rust, mold, cracks, or dents. 

Shelf Life Of Opened Canned Asparagus

After you open a can of asparagus, you should plan on consuming it within a week of its opening.

After five days, the canned asparagus can become a home for dangerous bacteria and pathogens that can cause food poisoning. 

Storing Opened Cans Of Asparagus

Refrigerate Opened Cans.

To ensure that your opened cans of asparagus remain safe to eat, you’ll want to store them in the fridge whenever you aren’t eating them. 

Don’t Keep Opened Cans Out At Room Temperature.

Never leave opened cans of asparagus out at room temperature for more than two hours.

After two hours, you’ll need to throw out the asparagus to avoid any risk of food poisoning.

Parting Thoughts 

Despite popular belief, canned asparagus is good for you and often provides better health benefits than fresh asparagus.

Just remember to shop around for the best quality of canned asparagus. The better the quality, the better the asparagus will taste.

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