Asparagus is a delicious vegetable, and one that is packed full of health benefits as well as being tasty and versatile.
If you are new to eating this wonderful crop then congratulations – you are in for a world of fun! If you want to know what parts of asparagus do you eat, then read on.
What You'll Learn Today
What Are The Parts Of Asparagus Called?
The different parts of asparagus, though they look like they are all the same sort of thing, are actually different parts of the plant.
The stem is self explanatory; this is the part that pokes up above ground and the part that you hold to dip the dip in delicious sauce.
The end of the plant, often called a bud, is actually formed by little tiny leaves. These are called scale leaves.
The woody bit at the bottom, that is generally not eaten, is part of the stem – but you may have another word for it in your house! We call it compost fodder.
The main part of asparagus – the stem and the scale leaves – are the ones that we eat, so we generally just call it “asparagus”.
Now you know more, you can impress your dinner guests with your asparagus knowledge!
How Much Of The Asparagus Stem Do You Eat?
The entire of the asparagus stem is edible, however there may be parts of it that are more palatable than others.
There is usually a woody, harder area at the very base of the stem that you will probably not enjoy munching on!
To check the state of the stem, you can bend it gently away from you; where it snaps is usually just before the woody part.
Aside from the hard bit, you can literally eat every single part of the asparagus stem, knowing that it is safe and totally delicious.
Although you might not like to munch on the woody ends, they make a fantastic addition to soups, sauces and stews – read on for some more info on this!
Here are good articles explaining the different parts of asparagus.
How Do You Properly Eat Asparagus?
This is a question of taste, really! Some people like to munch it raw; others like it lightly steamed; still others believe that cooked in other dishes is the only way.
A common way to serve asparagus is lightly steamed, with hollandaise sauce. In this instance, the spear should be picked up by the blunt end and dipped in the sauce.
If asparagus is served in a dish and covered in sauce, it should be eaten with a knife and fork.
Eating asparagus with lots of strong flavors is considered a no no, as this can overwhelm the delicate flavor of this lovely vegetable.
Why Can’t You Eat The Bottom Of Asparagus?
There is nothing actually wrong with eating the bottom part of the asparagus – it won’t poison you!
This being said, the bottom part is not very nice to eat; it is often hard and woody, and will not lend itself to the delicacy of asparagus dishes.
There is nothing you can do to restore the texture of this bottom piece; your best bet is to trim it off and add it to the compost pile.
Alternatively, you can leave it out on a bird table, or, if you have chickens or other livestock, they may like to nibble at it.
Or, you can use these pieces as part of another dish…
What To Do With Asparagus Ends?
Although the woody ends of asparagus are not delicious munching, they can still be used in the kitchen to save wasting them.
Using every part of the vegetable is a great way to reduce waste, at the same time as making the absolute most of your favorite vegetable.
They will do very well in the compost pile, as they rot down quickly and impart their goodness to the soil in coming years, but if you want to use them up then read on:
- You can try adding them to soups, to impart a delicious, delicate asparagus flavor.
- Use them as part of a sauce that needs a hint of asparagus – you can sieve or blend the sauce so that the woodiness is not noticeable.
- You should store your asparagus end in the freezer once you have cut them off the main stem, ready to get out and add to a delicious, flavorful soup. Recipe to follow!
- Heat one tbsp of oil and a knob of butter in a heavy bottomed pan.
- Add 2 chopped white onions and 2 cloves of crushed garlic.
- Soften these, then remove the pan from the heat.
- In a separate pan, boil the asparagus ends with some water to cover them and a little salt to add flavor.
- Blend the asparagus the onions, and add 250ml of stock.
- Push the resulting soup through a sieve in a circular motion.
- Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick.
- Warm the soup in a pan, and serve with a drizzle of cream.
This bubbly video gives you some visual instructions on how to make this delicious soup and how to avoid waste, with some additions:
As you can see, asparagus is a great vegetable that produces very little waste, as you can eat just about all of it!
Having discovered what parts of asparagus do you eat, you can enjoy your crop to your heart’s (and your stomach’s!) content.