How to Trim Asparagus

Use the snap-and-cut method to find the right place.

May 28, 2020
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By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

There are few things tougher — and we mean that literally — than the woody, inedible stem at the bottom of your asparagus. Luckily, there’s a pretty easy way to know where to cut off the base of your springy spears.

While some people advocate peeling the stem ends with a vegetable peeler, we find that this technique takes a while, doesn’t fully eradicate woodiness and leaves the ends of the asparagus stalks an unappealing lighter green color.

Instead, we prefer the snapping and slicing method. Conventional wisdom holds that asparagus stalks will snap at the point where the tender part of the stem meets the tough part of the stem. But does too much stalk snap off? No, not typically. If you’re worried about it, rest assured that you’ll only be losing a few extra centimeters (better than accidentally eating a woody end). And below, we give you a smart way to cook with the snapped off ends.

So why not snap off all the ends? Because you’ll end up with ragged ends and stems of slightly different length. Not the most aesthetically pleasing presentation. So we prefer to snap one stem to find where the woody part stops, and then line up all the rest and slice them at the same point. To make sure this works with all thicknesses of asparagus, we put our method to the test with three generous bunches of asparagus: skinny stalks, medium stalks and thick stalks. We snapped and sliced away — then steamed the stalks. Unsurprisingly, no woody stems remained.

Here’s a step by step breakdown of what to do:

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

1. Pick up one stalk and hold it in the middle and at the end.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

2. Bend the stalk until it snaps.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

3. Line up the tip of that stalk with the tips of the remaining stalks.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

4. Slice off the ends of the remaining stalks so they’re flush with the snapped stalk.

There you have it! Now, cook away.

And if you’re asking yourself whether or not you should toss the stem ends – don’t. Try slicing them as thinly as possible to break up the fibers, and tossing them in stir fries or soups. We’re all about no-waste asparagus enjoyment.

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