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What to look for when selecting:
Look for brightly coloured, long, straight, firm stalks with tightly closed, compact tips. Avoid buying spears that are limp, wrinkled, or have partially open tips.
How to store:
Wrap the asparagus butts in damp paper towel (or clean cloth) and place in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. This method should keep your asparagus fresh for 3 – 4 days.
Alternate storage method: Cut off the butt of the stalk and place asparagus upright in 2 inches of cold water, cover with a perforated plastic bag, and place in the fridge.
How to prepare:
Break of the butt end of each spear, where it snaps easily (should be about one inch from the end of each spear). Then wash asparagus spears under running water, being careful to remove any sand from under the scales.
3 main types: Green, white & purple
Green asparagus is the most common type of Asparagus sold in Canadian grocery stores. These spears gain their beautiful green colour from direct sunlight, and can sometimes have purple-tinged tips.
Another variety you might not be as familiar with is white asparagus, which is actually more popular than green in some European countries. White asparagus is grown from the same seeds as green asparagus, but they remain white because they are grown under soil. This prevents them creating chlorophyll, the naturally occurring chemical which turns plants green. White asparagus is usually thicker and smoother than the green variety and has a milder flavour. It can also be more fibrous than other varieties, so it may take longer to cook.
There is also a purple variety of asparagus called Viola. These large burgundy spears have a creamy white interior and are sweeter than other varieties.
Viola and white asparagus are both not typically available in mainstream grocery stores, but can be found occasionally.
- Once asparagus has been washed, trimmed and blanched it can be frozen for one year. Do not defrost before cooking.