Need to know:
- When choosing, ensure asparagus stems are firm and the tips are closed. They should be bright green or with a slightly violet tinge. When you rub them you should hear a little squeak, which is an indication of freshness.
- Opting for thick or thin spears is a matter of personal preference; thin are sweeter and will cook very quickly; the chunkier ones have a more pronounced flavour and are particularly good if barbecuing.
- Asparagus should be used soon after purchasing; to extend its freshness, store in the crisper drawer with the ends wrapped in damp paper towel, or stand upright in a glass of water.
- Extremely versatile, asparagus can be eaten raw, but in just a couple of minutes can be stir-fried, grilled, steamed or blanched. You could also try roasting, brushed with a little oil.
- To prepare, snap spears off where they break – don't discard the woody ends; they can be used to give a great asparagus flavour to stock.