Ultimate Guide to Asparagus: Taste, Cooking, & Spoilage
Asparagus is a nutritious, interesting vegetable that some people love and some people hate. As a kid, I have funny memories of eating the tops of the asparagus, and my mom telling me “eat the whole thing!” I would not be convinced, haha. Asparagus has a unique flavor and texture. If you want to learn more about this (plus lots of other interesting facts) keep reading!
What is asparagus?
Asparagus is a green vegetable largely known for it’s thin stalks with pointy spear-like tops. It is usually green, with purple undertones, and it’s scientific name is Asparagus officinalis.
While asparagus used to be classified in the lily family, it has currently been moved to it’s very own family of vegetables, simply called the Asparagaceae (a genus).
Interestingly, there are over 300 species of asparagus, but we only eat one of them—the Asparagus officinalis. Other species of asparagues are usually grown as decorative plants, not for consumption.
What does asparagus taste like?
It is very difficult to describe the taste of asparagus. Growing up, it was not a favorite flavor of mine, LOL—though I’ve learned to like it much more with some extra seasonings on it (see the recipe at the end of this post for my favorite way to eat it!
The best way I can think of to describe the taste of asparagus is a distinct flavor that is a bit grassy. It definitely has a bitter undertone. This is why I like it best with other flavors like lemon and parmesean. These help to prevent the bitterness from becoming overpowering.
Some people say asparagus tastes like broccoli or green beans. It is difficult to say definitively that it tastes like one of these, because the flavor can change a lot depending on how it is cooked (or if it is eaten raw!)
Personally, I think asparagus has a flavor all its own. It is not too similar to other vegetables to me.
Of course, the best way to figure out how asparagus tastes is to try it for yourself! You can experiment with different methods of cooking to see how the flavor changes, and which way you like it best.
Is asparagus sweet or bitter?
A little bit of both. Personally, I taste the bitterness more than the sweetness. But they are both there, subtly.
How do you get the bitter taste out of asparagus?
My favorite way to mask the bitterness is by adding other ingredients. Cooking in olive oil and adding seasonings like lemon and parmesean seem to do the tricky nicely!
Does asparagus taste like corn?
Most people say that white asparagus tastes more like corn than green asaparagus.
Next, let’s go over some common questions people have about cooking asparagus. There are a variety of ways to cook it, and which one you choose can greatly impact the finished result!
How do you cook asparagus?
There are a variety of ways! These include blanching, roasting, and sauteing. I personally LOVE making asparagus either roasted in the oven or sauted in a cast iron pan (keep reading for my go to recipe!)
Can you eat asparagus raw?
Yep! Asparagus is not dangerous when eaten raw – though most people seem to prefer it cooked.
Do you have to peel asparagus?
No. In general, peeling asparagus before cooking is not necessary. It will add a whole lot of extra time to the cooking process. However, some people claim that peeling asparagus is the key to making it easier to chew. You may want to try it both ways and see what you like better.
Is it OK to eat the whole asparagus?
Mostly. When you buy stalks from the store, you will want to cut off some of the bottom stem. There will be a portion at the bottom that is whiter and woody like. This is what you want to cut off before eating.
This is easiest to do with a simple cutting board and knife. You can line up all your asparagus and chop those ends off! Be careful not to waste the good green part of the stalk. You should only need to cut off a few inches at most.
Do you cook white asparagus the same as green asparagus?
Yes, white and green asparagus can be prepared using the same cooking methods! The main difference in these veggies (besides color) is that white asparagus can be thicker. You will need to trim off more from the bottom of white asparagus than green.
What is blanched asparagus?
Blanched asparagus refers to a specific method of cooking. Blanching can be used on a wide variety of veggies, not just asparagus. The process is generally the same: cooking the vegetable in boiling water, then placing directly into an ice bath to stop it from cooking further.
How do you know when your asparagus is cooked?
Perfectly cooked asparagus should be tender enough to stick a fork through, but not limp and mushy. Mushy asparagus is overdone. But asparagus that cannot be pierced easily with a fork is underdone. You are looking for something right in the middle!
Should asparagus be crunchy or soft?
A little of both! The key is making sure it is not TOO crunchy that you can’t stick a fork through or TOO soft that it becomes mushy. Trust me, no one likes mushy asparagus.
What does asparagus go well with?
Asparagus goes well with a variety of flavors and dishes. Common pairings include asparagus + bacon, asparagus + parmesean, and asparagus + lemon.
Should you wash asparagus before you cook it?
Yes! Wait until you’re ready to cook it to wash. Then, this is a great step to take. You want to make sure there is no dirt hidden in the stalks.
Before cooking your asparagus, you might wonder if it’s been in the fridge a little too long. I tend to buy asparagus and forget it’s in there. So how do you tell if asparagus is bad? That’s the questions we’re answering here.
How to tell if asparagus is bad
Two ways: the appearance, and the smell. Does your asparagus look wilted or limp? Is there mold or any fuzziness on the spears? Is it slimy? Does it smell bad? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, your asparagus is probably not fit to be eaten.
How long is asparagus good in fridge?
Generally, asparagus doesn’t last a super long time. To ensure the best freshness, be sure to use it in 3-5 days from when you first put it in the fridge.
Can cooked asparagus go bad?
Yes. You’ll want to store it well in air-tight containers to keep it good as long as possible. That said, in my opinion cooked asparagus is most delicious when eaten right after cooking. Reheated it’s just not as good.
Delicious Cast Iron Asparagus RecipeCourse: SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
12 oz asparagus
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
Pinch of salt and pepper
Parmesean sprinkled on top
- Put oil in the cast iron pan and let it begin to heat up.
- While pan is heating, rinse asparagus and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off a few inches of the ends.
- Add asparagus over high heat and cook for about 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir and cook for another minute.
- Add minced garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned.
- Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl and add to the pan. Stir and continue cooking until liquid dissolves, about a minute.
- Turn down the heat and allow asparagus to continue cooking until just done. Do not overcook.
- Turn heat off and sprinkle parmesean cheese over the top. Let it rest for a minute until cheese in melted, then serve immediately.
- If you want to make this on the AIP diet, omit pepper and and parmesean cheese.
Asparagus is a unique vegetable with an interesting flavor like none other. It can be cooked in a variety of ways and paired with a number of ingredients for a delicious veggie dish! So now it’s your turn. Get yourself some asparagus and start experimenting to see how you like it best!