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Peeled Asparagus?

I have a recipe from Food and Wine that calls for a pound of asparagus, peeled.
I have never come across a recipe that call for peeling asparagus.
Do they mean the bottom part below where the greener sprouted part starts?

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  1. I always peel my asparagus...the bottom part after I decide where to cut it off (no I don't snap...too much waste in my opinion)...then I use my veggie peeler and peel each stalk...makes for much better eating in my opinion and my mother always did it so it's what I'm used to...

    1. I can't be bothered to peel asparagus, just trim, cook and eat.

      1. I would offer the opposite view! IMHO life's too short to peel asparagus as long as you get rid of the tough bit of each stalk. That doesn't help much as you've now got one answer on each side of your question! I'm sure some others will tip the balance one way or the other.

        1. Yes, when asparagus are peeled, means just the bottom couple of inches at the most. Fresh asparagus is expensive enough that we almost always trim off the bottom part that's real tough and not green then peel. If the asparagus is real thin, then we just trim it to where it's tender because it would be too difficult to peel. If you're preparing less than a pound of asparagus it doesn't take too long to peel and you throw away less of it. If you're preparing a lot, then just trim it.

          1. Thanks everyone! There is a marinade involved-- maybe peeling helps absorb the flavors? I think i'll try the peeling just to try something new. I have always just trimmed it in the past.

            1. I've come across many recipes that say to peel, although after trying it once, I don't do it anymore. 1) In the peel is a concentration of the flavor that I love about asparagus, and without it, asparagus just tastes acidic and off. 2) Takes way too much time and I don't find much visual appeal in it

              3 Replies
              1. re: AndrewK512

                I think the asparagus peeling notion came from German and French chefs (I worked with a few that did this regularly) peeling white asparagus, which is tougher and needs to be peeled. If you've eaten fresh white asparagus you know what I mean. The green variety is more tender, even the fat stalks, and I'm in the "don't see the point" camp.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  I'm with you, bushwickgirl. In general, with green asparagus, not only do I not peel them, but I don't even bother snapping off the individual stalks. Instead, I simply eyeball the whole pile, use a chef's knife to even the tops on one side, and chop away the whole pile at once about where I expect the average stalk to be tender.

                  Once in a blue moon I get a bit of tough stalk, but usually everything is tasty and edible, and it's handy to have pretty uniformly sized stalks.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    The only part of the asparagus that I peel is the tough part that would be trimmed off if I didn't peel it, that's the point for me. I'm not peeling it all the way up to the flowery tip.

                2. Are you preparing this asparagus for yourself and family or for a formal dinner party? If the former, I never bother. The latter, I might. Especially if it was a stand-alone appetizer. In that case, I'd peel probably half the stalk after cutting off the bottom. Agree with tochowchick that breaking tends to be wasteful. I don't do that either, even if I'm going for fancy-shmancy.

                  1. I really think it has to do with the size of your Asparagus. I tend to just trim pencil or standard but I always peel extra large and jumbos. In the larger sizes that couple of extra inches is quite a lot of Asparagus so it makes sense to me and I like the way it looks.
                    I have never had any "acidic" or "off flavor" in peeled Asparagus and it does not take long once you get the hang of it.

                    1. On his PBS show, Jacques Pepin joked that while he was trained to peel asparagus, when he was in charge of a restaurant in NYC his underlings would have mutinied if he had assigned that task. He seemed to feel that it's not necessary for most spears, but showed a nifty method for doing it. Lay a spear on your work surface, parallel to the edge of the counter. pinch and hold the thick end down with one hand. Hold the veg peeler in the other, and rapidly zip from the thin to the thick end, while rolling the spear so each strip happens on previously unpeeled skin. Your non-dominant thumb keeps you from peeling all the way down so once you've circled the stem, you have what looks like a spear wearing a hula skirt. Then just break off the thick end and the skirt. Of course it took him only about 5 seconds to do a spear. He recommended freezing the trimmings for making vegetable stock.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greygarious

                        that is one of the thousand reasons we can watch jacques over and over again! he's a great (and practical) chef.

                      2. Many upscale restaurant will peel the grass. I think life's too short (or they are employing too many people in the kitchen). I'm a snapper, rather than a cutter, to get rid of the woody part.

                        1. I never peel the stuff. But, then again, I live and cook in North America and, according to Richard Olney, that may be why I don't need to. From the headnote to the asparagus vinaigrette recipe in his *Lulu's Proven├žal Table*: "In Provence, asparagus is green or purple-tipped. To the north of the line beyond which olive trees are no longer cultivated, white asparagus is usually preferred. Green, purple, or white, it is cut well beneath the surface of the earth. The skin on the lower part of the stalk is tough and, often, the lower extremity of the stalks is tough. In America, asparagus is often cut above the earth's surface and, all, or nearly all, of the skin is tender. In any case, each stalk should be tested with a knife, the bottoms cut off, if tough, and the stalks peeled from the bottom to the point at which the skin becomes tender, so that the entire remaining stalk is edible."