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Cooking Tip: Selecting and Storing Asparagus


Some people prefer thick asparagus, others like the thin asparagus best. Either way, select the freshest you can, as they lose their sweetness and start to toughen up after a few days. Pick the bunch whose tips (the tips become flowers if they are left on the plant) are still tightly budded, dry and not mushy. Asparagus should smell green and grassy, not like a wet dog (yup that is how the bad ones smell). And look at the stems, they should be plump without wrinkles and no yellowing.

When you get them home store them in the fridge like the flowers they are, in a vase with a little water at the bottom. Once you are ready to cook them snap off the bottoms, they will snap easily at the point they stop being fibrous. If they are very thick, peel the bottom with a vegetable peeler.

If you have kept the asparagus a little too long and need to restore their sweetness let them soak for an hour in ice-water with a teaspoon of sugar per cup of water.

Next time you see white or purple asparagus, give them a try as well. The white ones need to be treated gently, make sure they are completely fresh, they need to be peeled, then steam them and serve them simply with a little brown butter… they must be eaten with your hands, no forks allowed.

The purple ones are a treat, they have little or no fibers to toughen them and are beautiful raw in salads. Cooked they become green but are still perfectly delicious.


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