Crisp, fresh asparagus stalks are often grown in sand, which becomes lodged in the leaf tips of each stalk as it emerges from the soil. Properly wash the asparagus before you use it so the grit doesn't ruin your final dish. Although you can wash asparagus as soon as you get it home from the store, you might want to wait until just before you prepare it so you're not pulling soggy stalks from the refrigerator.
Things You'll Need
- Paper towels
Wash the individual stalks in cold running water. Rub the stems gently with your fingertips to remove any soil on the surface.
Fill a bowl with cold tap water. Dunk the tips of each asparagus stalk into the water two or three times and swish them around to remove any sand. Dunking and swishing forces the sand out gently. Running water may also force the sand out but may damage the tender tips in the process.
Pat the asparagus dry with a paper towel or allow it to drain in a colander until you are ready to prepare it.
Trim the ends off each stalk right before preparing the asparagus. Hold the asparagus at the bottom of the stalk and near the middle. Bend the stalk until the bottom breaks off, just above the white lower portion of the stalk. Dispose of the stalk bottoms and prepare the asparagus as desired.
Tips & Warnings
- To store asparagus -- before or after washing -- gather the stalks together and wrap the bottom ends with a damp paper towel. Place the wrapped asparagus in a plastic bag and store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less in the vegetable crisper drawer for up to three days.
- Asparagus has the best flavor and texture when it's cooked until it's just tender enough to pierce with a fork. Boil the stalks for two to five minutes, steam them for five to eight minutes, or stir-fry them in hot oil for three to five minutes. The stalks turn bright green when properly cooked.
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