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The Right Way to Trim Asparagus

- Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

Don’t waste a single bite.

Spring—and asparagus season—is right around the corner. Soon bunches of vibrant green stalks will be popping up at farm stands and grocery stores. Whether you prefer your asparagus on the thick or thin side, it’s important to trim the pale ends of each stalk because they tend to be woody and tough.

You might be accustomed to simply bending each stalk until it snaps in half, especially if you grew up snapping green beans. It’s a simple method, and doesn’t even require a knife. The stalk will break right where it starts to get tough—or that’s what you’ve been told all these years.

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The truth is that the bend-and-snap method can actually waste perfectly good asparagus. (Sorry, snappers!) The way a stalk breaks depends on the overall thickness of the stalk (skinny stalks are more flexible), how you bend it, and even how fresh the asparagus is (super-fresh asparagus tends to be more rigid). So although it might look like you’re getting rid of the tough ends, you’re probably also snapping off too much of the edible green stalks too.

The best way to trim asparagus is also the most obvious way: with a chef’s knife and cutting board. Line up all of the spears in a row and slice off the ends all at once. You should cut right where the stalks turn from white into green.

If you’re still not convinced, do a side-by-side comparison with two asparagus stalks of the same length and size. Use the bend-and-snap method with one stalk and see how it compares to a stalk that has been trimmed with a knife. The stalk that has been snapped will probably be a few inches shorter.

And when you’re talking asparagus—which can be pricey, even when in season—a few inches can make a big difference!

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