It’s asparagus season and I’m buying my spears on a weekly basis from local farmers in the Monterey Bay and Sacramento Delta. Asparagus, if you’ve grown them, are at their peak in after they’ve just been harvested. They begin to lose their flavor from there on in. The best asparagus that I ever had were ugly and stubby but grown from crowns I purchased from Kmart. It was a Martha Stewart thing.
Next to those are ones that are now coming into to season at many farmer’s markets. (Sorry to those of you in the Southern hemisphere. You had yours already and must wait.) For the tastiest asparagus, select the medium to large ones – their spears are about middle finger to thumb/toe width. Skinny spears are dainty but lacking in much flavor.
To keep asparagus fresh, as soon as I get the bunch home, I remove the rubber band and stick the spears in a jar of water. This method to keeping the asparagus ‘alive’ is much like a freshly-picked bunch of flowers. They keep well for a week and all I do is change the water every few days. You’ll notice that the asparagus bend toward sunlight. It’s their nature so don’t worry about it.
With store-bought asparagus that you don’t know the provenance or harvest time of, trim or break off the wooden ends, stick the spears in water and then refrigerate them. But not on the top shelf or back of the fridge or they can get freezer burn. There’s no need to cover the spears. You’re just giving them a florist-type of environment.
Grill, stir-fry or poach and serve with an Asian dressing, such as in the Easy Asparagus with Soy Sauce and Sesame recipe. Whatever you do, keep it simple to allow the asparagus to shine.