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signs of spring! farmer jo welcomes asparagus by Joanna Piatek 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

Wet Feet, Good to Eat
Since asparagus are best when simply prepared, you want to be sure that you choose the best quality when shopping. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid any asparagus that looks mottled and discolored, or has a musty sort of smell. It’s also important to look for vendors who store their asparagus in water. When left out in the produce section without it, the asparagus will lose much of its flavor. In many ways, asparagus is closer to a flower than a vegetable. When you get your stalks home, the best way to keep them fresh is to cut a ¼ inch off the bottoms, then store them in a jar of water. At the very least, wrap the ends in a wet paper towel.

Preparing Asparagus
Asparagus are very simple to prepare, but the method you use will depend on the size of the stalk. Thin spears only need to have the very ends snipped off with a vegetable knife before cooking. The ends of larger asparagus spears tend to be very woody. To make them taste their best, you will need to snap off or peel the ends. Snapping off the ends is a little wasteful, but much quicker than peeling. To snap off the tough portion of the asparagus, grasp the stalk with both hands and bend the bottom portion until it breaks off. The asparagus will break at the point where the tender portion ends and the tough part begins. If, on the other hand, you prefer to peel, a vegetable peeler makes the job much easier. Peel about two inches up the stalk.

Enough facts! It’s time to get to the good part -- eating asparagus! In a way, it was a struggle to come up with recipes for this article because my favorite way to eat asparagus is so simple that it’s hard to call it a recipe. There’s nothing I love more than barely cooked asparagus dipped in mayo. Just like that; everyday for a week would make me happy.

Asparagus are delicious almost any way you cook them: steamed, boiled, sautéed, baked, or micro-waved. The key to great asparagus is to avoid overcooking. For slender stalks, a few minutes in boiling water, the sauté pan, or the microwave should do. Just keep an eye on them. Nothing ruins asparagus more than cooking them until they are a grayish wilted mess.

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