Asparagus is picked as it emerges from the soil. When rain is eminent, the little side leaves open to catch moisture. If the rain is driving, sand will splash up the spears and get caught behind these leaves. We cold water wash all of the asparagus after picking but please check your asparagus for sand by peeling off a few leaves. If you find any sand, soak in very warm water for 10 – 15 minutes. This allows the leaves and heads to relax. Flush the sand out with clean warm water. If you are storing the asparagus after cleaning, chill in cold water before refrigerating.
Asparagus must be blanched before freezing. To blanch asparagus bring a pot of water to the boil over high heat, place the fresh spears in boiling water, cover and bring back to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain off the boiling water and thoroughly cool immediately in ice water. Drain well, lie in a single layer on cookie sheets and freeze. Put frozen spears in freezer bags as soon as possible, label and date for winter use.
A 5 spear serving has only 25 calories and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, thiamin & folate. It also contains glutathione, a powerful anticarcinogen and antitoxin.
Stand the spears upright in boiling water with only the bottom third submersed to prevent overcooking the tender tips. Cover, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes for tender crisp spears or 10 minutes for a softer texture. Use an asparagus pot (available at specialty kitchen stores), an old coffee pot or tie the bundle together with string and stand upright in a saucepan tall enough to cover. Serve plain, buttered with salt and pepper, a dash of lemon juice, dill weed, marjoram, savory, mace, buttered crumbs, cheese sauce or hollandaise sauce (see recipe).
Arrange spears in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper or seasonings of your choice. Bake uncovered at 500F for 6 to 9 min. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Try eating it raw; the taste resembles delicious sweet fresh baby peas. It makes a great addition to any salad. Asparagus is great added to stir-fries too.