All About Asparagus


Has this unusually tall vegetable stumped you? If you have struggled with how to select and prepare asparagus, we have got you covered!  Once you have mastered the selecting process, try some of our delicious recipes, and discover why asparagus is so wildly popular; it can even be prepared and cooked in minutes for a quick weekday side!

  • Season
    • Asparagus is available all year round in most grocery stores, but the choicest asparagus is in farmer’s markets in early summer 
    • In Alberta, harvesting takes place May through to early June 
    • This vegetable loves heat and in cooler nighttime temperatures the stalk will increase its sugar content  
  • Selection
    • The diameter of the asparagus stem is not always an indicator of tenderness, however, pencil-thin stalks can be all too easily over-cooked and the larger stalks can be tough and woody
    • Select stalks that are about 1/2 inch thick 
    • Purple tips on green asparagus mean a higher sugar content 
    • Select stalks that have tight buds and hydrated ends; avoid light green, woody asparagus with open buds as these are signs that the asparagus is past its prime
  • Types
    • White, green and purple asparagus all come from the same plant  
    • White asparagus is grown under a covering, usually of dirt to prevent photosynthesis by blocking the sun and, creating creamy white stalks 
    • White asparagus is said to have a more delicate flavour and, because of its rarity, is considered a delicacy 
    • Purple asparagus is very tender and has a twenty percent higher sugar content offering a desirable sweetness to this variety. The purple colour is only found on the exterior of the stalk, as the flesh can be pale green to creamy white
  • Storage
    • Wrap in dampened paper towels or place asparagus stalks in a small amount of water in a tall container and cover loosely with plastic; place in fridge and use within 5 days
    • Refer to freezing and storage information here:
  • Preparation
    • Rinse well under cool running water, removing soil and sand that gets trapped in the tips 
    • Do not bend and snap! This method leads to the waste of perfectly delicious and nutritious asparagus. Using a sharp knife, cut up about an inch up from the end, or where the white portion of the stalk ends and the green begins 
    • Freshly picked, farmer’s market asparagus may not need the ends removed at all 
    • To peel or not to peel... It’s not necessary to peel asparagus as the entire stalk is edible however older stalks can benefit from a thin peeling. Using a vegetable peeler, start at the base of the tip and peel a thin strip down to the cut end. Peeling is said to remove the bitterness that may be present on the exterior of white asparagus
    • Can you eat asparagus raw? Absolutely! Choose fresh, young spears for best flavour and tenderness
  • Cooking
    • Asparagus can be enjoyed in many ways, try it grilled, steamed, sauteed, roasted. Toss it into pasta, purée into a soup or blanch, chill and add to salads  
    • Avoid overcooking asparagus; it will quickly turn to mush. Purple asparagus loses its colour if heated too long

Try our favourite recipes:

  • Easy
    Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
  • Easy
    Greens with Asparagus and Oranges
  • Medium
    Strip Loin with Artichokes, Asparagus and Red Pepper
  • Easy
    Asparagus and Mushroom Strata