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SOUTHERN RECIPES
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Picking, Storing and Cooking Asparagus 

When choosing asparagus, look for bright green spears with tightly closed, compact tips. Size doesn’t indicate a woody texture or diminished flavor. Thick spears are as tender as thin ones; tenderness relates to color, meaning the greener the better.

To Store Asparagus: Trim away the tough end of the spear, if desired. Store in the refrigerator with the spears covered, standing upright in about 1 inch water. Or wrap the ends with a wet paper towel and cover with plastic wrap or store in a sealed plastic bag. Stored properly, asparagus will keep 4 to 6 days in the refrigerator.

To Prepare for Cooking: Trim away the tough ends, or hold the asparagus stalk by the ends and bend it; it will snap at the point where it becomes tough. If you like, use a swivel-type peeler to peel off tough outer skin. Asparagus holds up well to various coo. Here are a few cooking methods adapted from the California Asparagus Commission.

Grill: Brush or toss spears with oil to coat them evenly. Grill over medium until browned and still crisp-tender.

Microwave: Place 1 pound of spears in a microwave-safe dish with cup water. Cover with plastic wrap but vent one corner. Microwave on high 3 to 6 minutes; remove and let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Blanch or Boil: Bring 1 to 1 inches of water to a boil in a large skillet. Salt the water slightly when it comes to a boil; that will help retains the bright green color. Add the asparagus, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 2 to 5 minutes until tender.

Steam: Place whole spears on a steamer rack in a large saucepan over boiling water. Cover and steam about 5 minutes until the spears are bright green and crisp-tender.

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