Asparagus: Smart Storage
Snap! Snap! Snap! That’s the wonderful sound of the woody ends of asparagus spears breaking off.
When I shop for asparagus, I don’t buy those very skinny ones because the spears haven’t enough flesh on them to develop good flavor. You want to look for crisp spears with tightly closed heads and about a half inch of thickness.
To store asparagus for 4–5 days in the fridge, keep the stems moist. I either stand them in a bit of water in a jar or wrap the bottoms in a damp paper towel and put them in a sealable bag in the vegetable crisper. Asparagus will go limp and lose its sweetness if kept too long — so eat it up sooner rather than later!
No matter whether it’s simmered, steamed, stir-fried (or dressed up in a rich hollandaise sauce, tossed raw in salads or simply grilled), asparagus is always a hit at our table. There are two camps when it comes to cooking asparagus: to peel or not to peel. I choose not.
You have to snap asparagus before you cook it; bend each stalk, and it will almost tell you where to break it, usually a couple inches or so from the base.
Most people pitch the fibrous ends, but I save them for making asparagus soup. I toss them into the freezer in an airtight container, then when I have collected about 6 cups of stems, I thaw them and put them in a large pot with a chopped onion, two peeled diced potatoes, and enough chicken stock to cover. Then I cover the pot and boil until everything is really tender, pass the whole thing through a food mill and discard those fibers. If you like, you can thicken the soup with a roux. Even my two picky grandchildren will ask for seconds!
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