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Minnesota Cooking: Asparagus - Tips on Growing, Picking, and Cooking
It Starts Out Small and Grows Quickly
I took a picture of this lonely shoot, only to discover that there was yet another shoot standing right next to it. Yes. Asparagus is hard to spot. These are small. Notice the blades of grass next to them.
To cut the asparagus, you need a knife. You set the blade of your knife at the bottom of the stalk, where the shoot meets the dirt and cut downward at an angle. I do not know why you must cut it at an angle. The person who taught me did not say why, they just insisted it needed to be at an angle.
Random Myths About Growing Asparagus
Myth One. You need salt on your bed. - Some people believe you need salt on the asparagus bed to control the weeds. It apparently is a fact that asparagus came from the shores of an ocean, so the salt water may be what it was used to. I have no idea. Do what works for you.
Myth Two. You cannot cut the 'first year' sprouts. - I have been told that you need to wait until the second year to cut your first year sprouts. I doubt this is true either, because every spring we take a lawnmower and chop the whole works down to the dirt. So that shoots that theory, completely.
Fact: The little red balls that appear on your plant at the end of the season are seed balls. - Seeds grow. So, let them drop. Note: that is where the baby asparagus plants come from. So. If you want to expand your patch, pick off some of those red seeds and place them on the ground where you want asparagus to grow. Maybe even cover with a little dirt so the birds do not notice them.
Myth Three. You need to pick asparagus only in months with R in them. - I don't know. We have snow here until later in the spring, so whether you could pick it in February is beyond me. It's April and it is growing. Come July, I don't think it would grow as well. Here we have cool rains and then a hot day. That seems to make asparagus grow. July is usually hot and dry.
Fact. You should cut your asparagus close to the ground. Then, you should bend your stalk and let it break at the point where the hard meets the new growth. Discard the hard stuff. We only eat the growth that is tender.
Can You See the Sprout in This Picture?
No? Are you sure? - You caught me. There isn't one.
A Knife Works Well to Cut the Sprouts
This is just a random pocket knife. You can use whatever knife you have. If you do use a pocket knife be warned that it will get full of mud and sand and may rust.
Cut End Ground Level at Angle
Again, I have no idea why you do this. It isn't so you have more to eat because you will throw this part away once you break off the tender part.
Food for thought.
Bend and Break
Bend it until it breaks off. Tender part goes to bowl for cooking, hard part goes to bag for trash. So, just grab the top part in your hand, and press on the end you just cut off. There will be a certain amount of very hard stem by where you cut it off up to the spot where you can break it off.
Does that make sense to you? The asparagus stem gets woody the taller it gets, so the bottom section of the stalk becomes inedible. That is most of the reason why you should discard the hard stuff.
The soft tops go in the bowl.
Hard Woody Stem
Discard or throw away.
First Picking of the Season
Fresh picked, ready to break. Not bad for the first picking. This is enough for a good sized bowl full in the microwave. Guess this is what we're having for supper.
Either with the oriental flavoring or with Hollandaise sauce. Both delicious!
The Patch Doesn't Look Like It Will Grow
It doesn't look like much. When we get a rain and a hot day, it will grow almost immediately.
See What I Mean?
It gets rather tall, about four or five foot tall.
Today Was 93 Degrees
I had to go out and cut my asparagus tonight. The mosquitoes were out, and I'm quite sure that I will find a wood tick or two on me. I'm crawling already.
I took a few pictures of my patch before I cut the asparagus. We're trying something new this year. I cut them off just under the ground. I break off the hard stuff saving just the soft tops. Then, I take the lawn mower and I mow off the grass that is growing in the bed.
Weed control, you see. We haven't sprayed it. We used salt last year and I have read that you can put too much salt on, so, none this year. My husband thought about spraying the grass with some grass killer, but, it's been raining a lot here this summer and there are rules to applying the grass killer, which includes not spraying when you know it's going to rain.
See - It's Very Weedy
Awwww, Isn't it Cute???
Cut With Sharp Knife Under Surface
Bend It Over and Keep Only the Soft Stuff
Gallon Pitcher Holds Quite a Few
Our Lawnmower Removes Excess Grass
It's been working fairly well. Cut the asparagus. Mow it off. Then, it rains, gets hot and grows again. Repeat the process. Cut. Mow. Wait.
The Best Weed Control Device
Simple to Cook
When you cook asparagus, the easiest way is to put it in a dish with some water, cover your dish with plastic wrap and microwave it for 5 minutes.
You can add onions and celery and cashews and soy sauce for a wonderful 'oriental' dish.