Asparagus originates from the lily family. It's best cooked the same day it's purchased but will keep, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Or, store standing upright in about an inch of water covering the container with a plastic bag. Clean asparagus thoroughly as it's grown in sandy soil. If asparagus stems are tough, remove the outer layer with a vegetable peeler. White asparagus is grown underground to prevent it from turning green. You may also find a purple variety of asparagus.
How to Buy
Choose smooth, round, tender, medium-size green spears with closed tips. HOW TO PREPARE Break off tough ends as far down as stalks snap easily. Wash asparagus; remove scales if sandy or tough. (If necessary, remove sand particles with a vegetable brush.) For spears, tie whole stalks in bundles with string, or hold together with band of aluminum foil. Or cut stalks into 1-inch pieces.
How to Cook Conventionally
Boil: Spears-Place stalks upright in deep, narrow pan. Boil uncovered 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Pieces-Boil uncovered 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Steam: Covered 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender.
How to Microwave
Place spears in 8x4-inch microwavable loaf pan or pieces in 1-quart microwavable casserole; add 2 tablespoons water. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Let stand 2 minutes.