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06/03/2019

~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~

IMG_1895In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June.  It's one of my favorite green vegetables, but, interestingly, I prefer to purchase it rather than grow it.  Why?  Frankly, when we did grow our own, on days when I needed it, I couldn't rely on enough being ready for harvest and vice versa.  Asparagus spears, which pup up out of the ground like little soldiers, grow on their own time, not mine.  Early in the season, it can take a spear up to three days to mature.  Toward the end of the season, it can mature in one day.  Asparagus farmers must maintain every row of asparagus every day.

#1)  Choose:  Fresh always matters more than thickness.

IMG_1879Asparagus begins losing its naturally sweet flavor the moment it's picked, so buy the freshest bunch possible. Look for straight, firm stalks that are bright green in color and unblemished.  Don't buy asparagus that appears dry, wrinkled or limp. The tender tips should be compact and deep-green and slightly purple-ish and not ruffled, frayed or flowery looking.  To ensure even cooking, choose asparagus of even thickness.  Thin asparagus is the most tender and only needs to be quickly blanched.  Medium-thickness is perfect for a brief simmer or sauté, and, thick asparagus is great roasted or grilled.

#2)  Prep: Rinse & drain, &, snap or trim. 

IMG_4343Prepping asparagus correctly gives it a shelf life of 3-5 days.  Since it's grown in sandy soil, give the spears a swish in a bowl of cold tap water to release any debris, then, lay them, in a single layer, on a few layers of paper towels to drain thoroughly, 5-10 minutes.  Because every spear has a woody end too fibrous to eat, trimming comes next. When gently bent, the stalk will snap at a point a few inches from the base, where the spear goes from tough to tender.  Once you get a feel for where the stalks du jour are snapping, time can be saved by trimming several at a time with a chef's knife.

#3)  Store:  In a glass of water in the refrigerator.  

IMG_4372Once trimmed, don't put asparagus in the vegetable bin with the riffraff. Gather it up in a bunch, stand it upright in a glass containing half an inch of cold water and store it, uncovered, on a shelf in the refrigerator.  As for those woody ends, they can be stored in a food storage bag in the vegetable bin or frozen and used to make stock or soup.  Remove asparagus from refrigerator just prior to cooking. While many restaurant chefs insist upon using a vegetable peeler to shave two-three inches of skin from the bottom of each stock prior to cooking (for a prettier presentation), most home cooks do not bother -- me included. 

IMG_1878"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

Comments

Your Asparagus is really amazing. I love it.Looking tasty.

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