Asparagus 101

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asparagus 101

When I was a kid, I hated asparagus. My grandma would make it for special occasions. She would boil it for a long time. A long time. It would turn an awful color and literally fall apart when it was removed from the boiling water. Gross.

My opinion turned around in high school. My BFF raved about asparagus. Her family would pick fresh asparagus from roadside ditches by her rural cabin. I realized eating asparagus didn’t have to be a terrible experience, but it could be tasty with a lovely texture.

I thought we would review some asparagus tips in Asparagus 101 before asparagus season is done.

Choosing Asparagus

  • Like any other produce, you are more likely to have good luck with tasty and tender asparagus if you get it in season. Asparagus season is early March to late May to June, depending on where you live.
  • Choose asparagus with tight tips or buds. If they have started to open up, then they are probably old. If they are soggy or slimy looking steer clear. It’s perfectly normal for the asparagus to have purplish tips.

asparagus 101

  • There is some debate about thin vs. thick stalks. Some say thicker stalks are older, some say they are just harvested earlier in the season. Just make sure they are plump and not all wrinkled or dry looking.

Storing Asparagus

  • Asparagus doesn’t last long. I’ve heard stories of it lasting 2 weeks, but I’ve really never had success beyond about 7 days.
  • Store it upright in a jar or cup with about an inch of water in the bottom. Then cover the jar loosely with a plastic bag and put it in the fridge. (I left off the bag, so you could see it.)

storing asparagus

Preparing Asparagus

  • The bottom part of the stalk can be very woody. When cooked it turns stringy and tough. There are a couple ways to deal with this depending on how much time you have and also the keenness of your guilt complex.
  • The easiest method is to bend the asparagus near the base. It will usually snap about where the fibrous part ends.

asparagus 101

asparagus 101

  • You are left with the fibrous bottom and the more tender top part. You can just toss out the bottoms and cook the top. This is more viable if your recipe calls for chopped up asparagus.

asparagus 101

But I usually can’t do that. Look how much would be wasted? I can hear my grandma chiming, “waste not, want not.”

  • If you don’t want to be a waste-monger, and you have a wee bit of extra time, you can just peel the bottom 1/3 of the asparagus.
  • I once saw a chef peeling asparagus on the back of a bowl. This was a miracle revelation. It is kind of a pain to peel the asparagus on the counter because the peeler runs into the counter. The curved surface of the bowl keeps the peeler up, away and free to do its work.

Peeling asparagus

(Photo credit: my cute neighbor Emily)

peeled asparagus

This method leaves you with whole, beautiful stalks of asparagus to enjoy.

Now, do you want to know how to cook it?

Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing an asparagus recipe in the near future.

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  1. The BFF says

    So funny you would call Altamont a rural cabin. To this day we love Hunting for Asparagus and plan to do it this coming Memorial Day Weekend!

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