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Apr 28, 2010 07:44 PM

Asparagus - Oh, snap!

I have asparagus fever.

I was surfing the web for asparagus info after reading this thread on Home Cooking

14 Days of Asparagus

I found this article by Harold McGee that is anti-snapping in terms of trimming. It also has a lot of other good general asparagus info, some of which I never knew

Anyway, I stopped snapping years ago because I buy various sizes from super-thin to jumbo. It was the thin asparagus that did me in. It was too much work for me to snap all those spears.

On the other end, with jumbo I find there is too much waste. Snapping works best on medium spears and even then there's a lot of error.

McGee writes "I’ve been a spear-snapper too, but I’m regularly annoyed by fibrous spears among the tender ones, and I have wondered just how reliable snapping is. Over the course of a few weeks, I snapped a total of 130 spears, then steamed them and bit into the wide end. About a third were unpleasantly stringy"

I have to disagree about his method of slicing though ... cutting 6 or 7 inches from the tip.

I cut above the white area. If it is still woody, you can tell by sight and the way it feels when cut ... I cut a bit more. If there is no white area, I just cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the bottom for good measure.

As to the trimmed part, McGee goes through a lot more trouble than I could stand. He cuts them into super thin rounds because then the fiberous part isn't noticible. Well, maybe ... but from a person who is too lazy to snap lots of thin spears, micro-slicing the ends isn't going to happen.

Unfortunately, I've been throwing the ends away. I'm not the type of person to make stock often. However, if you look at the link with recipes ... 14 Days of asparagus ... I found a link in there for artichoke butter which uses the stems ... I might give that a try the next time I buy some asparagus.

As to people who peal the ends ... I never got that. It seems like a lot of work and the end is still stringy.

So are you a snapper, a peeler or a slicer?

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  1. I've recently begun to experiment with asparagus, and so far, I've only used the peeled method as suggested by Julia Child. It was quite a pain for those thin spears, but it works well for the thick ones.

    EDIT: Peeling is quite a lot of work, but it's worked for me so far. The rationale is that the tough portions are in the outer layers, so peeling removes them. It's also more economical in that you remove a relatively thin layer on each spear, as opposed to a good chunk. If you find that peeling still leaves tough bits near the end, then you need to peel deeper at the butt. I will try other methods too. Certainly slicing is the easiest way when you're in a rush. I think I will try that method next--learn how to feel out the tough portions.

    1. I never snap-find it silly really. It only takes a little experience with prepping and cooking asparagus to get a feel for where you should cut it.
      I line the asparagus up and in one slice, I'm done.

      1. Slicer, as in cut off the ends, while they're still tied in a bundle, and no peeling, just silly, certainly for the skinny ones. Years of asparagus prepping and eating has brought me to the point of not wanting to fool around with them any longer.

        I cut at the point where the white meets the green, where the stalk starts to look tender, about 6-7 inches down from the spear tip. I've found that by snaping, you're losing some of the edible part of the spear. I have peeled the fat stalks, but I prefer not to buy that size; i like the skinny ones.

        The stalks make a good base for soup, especially, duh, cream of asparagus, but I've never bothered using them for much else.

        1. I snap but I always munch on the snapped ends. I find the asparagus still edible.

          Rworange, how does one eat Asparagus butter?

          3 Replies
          1. re: pdxgastro

            According to the recipe "Serve chilled with freshly baked wheat or whole grain bread."
            It might be nice as a dollop on fish or meat.

            I found a few other asparagus butter recipes and put them here

            One is asparagus butter with thyme. The other is tea sandwiches with asparagus butter which look pretty.

            I found a recipe for asparagus mixed into cream cheese which would be nice on a bagel. Glad I have a few ideas to try out instead of tossing the bottoms.

            1. re: rworange

              A monkey dish is a small, generally round, but not necessarily, side dish for serving sides of vegetables or other condiments, sauces, dressings, etc, in restaurants. These dishes hold about a half cup serving. I can't tell you how many times, when I worked professionally, I had someone in the kitchen say, "Hand me a monkey dish, please."

              The butter sounds delicious, btw. I would use real garlic also.

            2. re: pdxgastro

              YES! So do I. I enjoy snacking on the snapped ends whilst snapping the rest of the asparagus. Not that much trouble, watch something on TV while you're doing it or something.

              I think this is like the gardeners who hand-water their yards vs the drip system proponents- I'm one of the former (in case you hadn't guessed).