Learn how to cut asparagus easily so you’re only eating the best part of the plant + more tips on cleaning and storage.
Asparagus is a super healthy long green vegetable that tastes great in any wide range of dishes from Asian stir fry to an egg benedict this is one popular and versatile veggie. Taking a moment to properly prepare the asparagus will ensure you get the best results every time.
How to Buy Asparagus
When shopping for asparagus you want to look for bundles that are nice and firm. As asparagus ages, it becomes soft and bendable. The tops may even get mushy looking.
- The tops of the veggies should also appear to be tightly closed. Older asparagus will have tops that appear more “open.”
- The tops can be any shade of green, purple, or white depending on their specific variety but they shouldn’t be dark green/black as this is usually a sign of asparagus so old it’s beginning to rot.
- Coloring on the stalk of the asparagus is also important. You want a nice vibrant green color that fades down to a white at the bottom ends.
Personally, I like to buy the thinner asparagus because they’re more tender and don’t get as mushy when they cook.
How to Store Asparagus
Now, I’m mentioning this one because it’s actually not as common knowledge as it should be. While you may buy your asparagus in bags or rubber-banded bundles, they aren’t supposed to be stored that way.
If you’re eating your asparagus the same day, then it’s fine, but if you plan to wait a day or two then make sure to store them properly.
When you first bring the asparagus home, trim off a tiny amount, about 1/4 inch, before placing the asparagus upright in a jar or cup of water. There should be about 1 inch of water in the container.
Should fresh asparagus be refrigerated?
Yes, but there’s more to it than just that.
- First, you must think of the asparagus as flowers.
- As mentioned above, when you first bring them home, trim off the dry and wooden ends before placing the asparagus upright in a jar or cup of water.
- There should be about 1 inch of water in the container.
- Unlike flowers, you should loosely cover the asparagus with a plastic bag after this step.
Now your asparagus should be good for up to about 4 days in the fridge, maybe longer if you keep them in a humidity-controlled veggie crisper.
How to Clean Asparagus
You can choose to soak your asparagus or run them underwater. For the soaking method, fill a bowl with cold water and allow the asparagus to soak for a few minutes before rinsing them off.
For the other method, simply run them under cold running water to remove dirt and debris. It’s important to wash your asparagus well because fine grit can get into the tips and we don’t want to eat that.
Make sure to not wash your asparagus until you’re actually ready to use it. Also make sure to towel dry them afterward, especially if you’re doing a recipe that will ask you to roast, brown, or sautee them as the excess water will actually steam the veggies instead.
Note that you do not need to peel asparagus. These veggies are meant to be eaten skin and all and there is no benefit to peeling them besides appearances.
How to Trim Asparagus
Trimming your asparagus can be done in one of two ways. The first way is the easiest because it’s as simple as using a sharp knife to cut off the bottom 1.5-2 inches of each stalk. The second method is my favorite, you simply bend the stalks until they snap apart. Snapping them instead of cutting them helps to make sure that all of the wooden-like bitter ends are removed because they snap right where that part ends.
Do you need to trim asparagus?
Trimming asparagus helps ensure that you only get the best of each veggie on your plate. The bottom ends of the stalks can often be bitter and hard or chewy (kind of like bamboo) so it makes sense why we would like to have them removed before cooking them up.
What happens if you don’t trim asparagus?
Technically nothing truly bad happens as the ends are still edible, but they will have the consistency of wood and are very unpleasant to chew on.
How to Cut Asparagus
If you’re wondering how to trim asparagus, there are actually two methods. One is with a knife and one is with your hands. Both have their own benefits.
For example, when you use a knife to trim the ends off of the asparagus you can control how much is cut and give yourself long green stalks all roughly the same size. This is perfect for really fresh asparagus because the wooden end pieces should be pretty minimal.
But my favorite way to trim them is actually bending them until they snap.
After you’ve washed and prepped them, trimming is easy. I don’t trim with a knife because sometimes, it doesn’t get all the bitter ends off.
- Grab each end of the spear in both hands.
- Gently bend the spear until it breaks.
Usually, the ends are about an inch long, if the asparagus has been sitting for a while, more will break off. I always prefer trimming asparagus with this method, I can tell when I get a bad end! It only takes a minute or two to trim asparagus this way.
Where to Cut Asparagus
At the bottom of each stalk is a discolored (slightly more pale or purple) shade of the stalk. This is where it was cut before shipping to stores and this is where the plant dries out as it waits for you to purchase and use it. You want to remove this bottom piece, not the top where the tips are.
How much stem do you cut off asparagus?
Similarly to trimming flower stems, you want to cut off the bottom 1-2 inches of each stalk. The entire discolored or dried-out section should be fully removed and discarded, leaving only the juicy green asparagus behind.
Which part of the asparagus do you eat?
The answer is simple.
The tops and stalks are both edible and delicious.
While the wooden ends are technically edible, they have the texture of chewing on….well, wood. And for that reason we avoid them. So now that you know all about this wonderful long green plant, I hope you enjoy buying and cooking asparagus all season long.
Once you know how to buy, store, wash and trim these veggies, you’ll be prepared for any great recipe like my Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes or this easy recipe for Oven Roasted Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic. If the weather is nice you may even break out the grill to make Grilled Asparagus!
How to Know When Asparagus is Bad
You will know that your asparagus has gone bad when it is showing any signs of mold or spoiling. This can mean anything from patches of moldy fuzz to becoming slimy and mushy. If you can touch the tip of a raw asparagus and it smushes underneath your finger, it has gone bad.
Can you eat wrinkly asparagus?
Asparagus can wrinkle from time to time as it ages and this should be considered a safe and normal experience. Unlike mold or slime, a wrinkly asparagus stalk is nothing to worry about. It might just be a sign that you’ll want to use them sooner rather than later. So go ahead and wash them up and cook as desired.
When should I trim asparagus?
You should trim your asparagus just before cooking for the best results. This will help to keep your asparagus from drying out in the fridge or spoiling before use. If you do trim your asparagus earlier than that, then keep them standing upright in a jar of water in the fridge until ready to cook.