Asparagus is a green vegetable that resembles a spear with a budding head. Native to the Mediterranean region, the entire spear is edible. Cato gave excellent growing instructions for asparagus as early as 200 BC. White asparagus comes from the process of etiolation, which is the deprivation of light.
Asparagus officinalis, is derived from the Greek asparagos and the Persian asparag, referring to tender spears or shoots.
Common and Other Names:
asparagus, speargrass, spargel, esparrago, asperge, asparago, espargos
Although fresh asparagus is available year-round in most markets, prime season is in spring, from February to June with April being the most active harvest month in the northern hemisphere.
Select firm, straight, smooth, rich green stalks with tightly-closed tips. Ridges in the stems and a dull green color are an indication of old age. The stalks should not be limp or dry at the cut. Choose stalks of uniform thickness for more control in the cooking process.
Asparagus Varieties and Forms:
Common asparagus varieties include green asparagus, violet or purple asparagus, and wild asparagus. Asparagus is available fresh, frozen, and canned.
Do not wash asparagus before storing and never soak it. Trim the ends of fresh asparagus and stand them upright in a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with a plastic bag and store spears in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Miscellaneous Asparagus Information:
Many chefs peel the lower stalks to avoid any woody strings, but others insist this is not necessary with properly selected, thin, fresh asparagus. Peeling is recommended for thicker stalks.
In-depth Asparagus Information:
Asparagus Cooking Information. Learn about how to cook with asparagus.