Sunday, June 4, 2017

Asparagus: Does Size Matter?

A blogging buddy recently commented that some homegrown asparagus she's seen doesn't look much like the slender, uniform sized bundles for sale in stores.  So, does asparagus grow in different sizes both in girth and length?

Yep, sure does.


The different sizes of spears may be hard to distinguish in this shot of one of the asparagus rows in my garden, but some spears are thin and slender, others are fat and thick. 


This is a thick spear before harvesting.


Here are a few spears of the batch of asparagus I just harvested.   There was a great variety of sizes and shapes, both in width and length.  (The longest one shown here measured 19" long.)


These three were the fattest or thickest.

Of the spears I've harvested this year, all of them (no matter size or shape) have been tender and delicious.


Before using a spear, I start at the cut end and press a sharp knife lightly into the spear as if to cut off a piece.  An inch or two (sometimes more) nearest the cut end will feel woody and tough.  I progress with my knife testing up the spear until I reach a spot where the knife blade easily starts to cut into the spear and that's the point from which I start taking the cut pieces to use.

So, no, when it comes to the thickness of the spears that may grow in your garden, size does not matter.

Having said all this, I have no idea where those uniformly sized bundles of asparagus for sale in stores come from.  Well, okay, they come from large, commercial asparagus patches.  But what happens to the bigger or smaller stalks, the misshapen ones?  Commercially prepared Cream of Asparagus soup, anyone?

24 comments:

  1. Hi Mama Pea! :) I'm a fan of the slim ones. Sometimes I think the thick ones are "too much asparagus" for me, but I guess all I have to do is eat less of them lol...they all taste good. And I'm sure the ones in the store aren't anywhere near as good as home grown. Thanks for the lesson! :)) Beautiful harvest, I didn't know they grew straight up like that!

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    1. Rain - As with all foods, I think we all have our particular preferences, and there's nothing wrong with that. Until we (finally!) got this asparagus patch of our own going two years ago, we've not had but one or two tastes of asparagus in many years because that available in our organic foods co-op go for $6.99 a pound. Which means a couple of pounds of asparagus . . . $14.00! Wowee!

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    1. DFW - You read all over that asparagus doesn't like to grow with weeds. And yet, when we lived in Illinois and a railroad track ran right by on the border of our property . . . what grew wild smack dab among the weeds growing on either side of the tracks? Yep, delicious asparagus! All the same, I do try to keep on top of the weeds in my garden. I keep thinking if I pull all of them out by the roots, eventually they'll stop popping up all over. Just like the rocks that seem to "grow" right up to the top of the soil every year, right? ;o)

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  3. Same with ours. I get huge ones and small ones, but I can shave the larger for asparagus salad, and the thick ends go into the crock pot with other veggies for other meals. I just picked some more this morning.

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    1. Kristina - Gotta wonder why some grow skinny and some grow thick, don't you? (Inquiring minds want to know!) ;o)

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  4. Probably the same reason my sisters are both blue eyed blondes and I am (was) a dark burnett with auburn highlights. The first comment that came to my mind when I saw your post title was "only if one is running for public office."

    May the asparagus be with you.

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    1. Goatldi - You are a sassy little girl! ;o]

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  5. we have a mix of tall short fat and thin but they all taste great :-)

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    1. Dawn - Yepper, that's what we think, too. I made cream of asparagus soup yesterday and it was goooood!

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  6. Good info. I wondered if the fat ones were more woody. Yep, all we see around here are the skinny ones in the stores. I have seen fatter ones in cans, though. I picked 2 cucumbers and 1 squash this weekend. I was so excited...I used them both in salads already. And I'll probably be able to pick string beans by the end of the week. The cherry tomatoes have small fruit on them and I even have a couple of larger tomatoes on the other bushes. Garden is looking good!

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    1. Laurie - Oh, I envy you having cucumbers already! They're just about my favorite fresh veggie from the garden. My tomatoes don't even have blossoms yet. Plus, they're still wearing their long underwear!!

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  7. I love asparagus in any size, shape or form, although I do tend to like the larger spears more. As in MORE asparagus!

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    1. Susan - Yep, more crunch for your bite! Can't believe how much we've gotten from our patch already this year. We're really, really enjoying it!

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  8. I just love asparagus no matter what the size or shape. Although I must admit, I have seen pictures of white asparagus and am not sure if I would attempt to try it. It just looks odd! BTW, I made the rhubarb cake yesterday - there is one piece left. :) It was delicious!

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    1. MrsDM - I hope you snarfed up that last piece. As the baker you deserved it!! I just had to make something again this afternoon with more rhubarb . . . baked a Rhubarb Crunch which is still cooling.

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  9. Love your observation that wild asparagus grows in weedy ditches!! That brought back fond memories of my mother and myself "stalking the wild asparagus" along Dakota county roads. Alas, you cannot find wild asparagus anymore in that Big Ag county. The ditch weeds, along with the asparagus and the scrawny wild plum trees, have been sprayed away with God knows what.-M

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    1. M - Arrrgh, the stupid folly of men! Double arrrgh!

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  10. I have another asparagus story: When I go home to see family, I visit the prairie cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried. In that cemetery is an old, somewhat forgotten, grave of a pioneer farmer. Around his gravestone is a big, lush patch of asparagus!! It looks like it might be the heirloom, Mary Washington variety--or perhaps the wild asparagus transplanted in his honor. It is a beautiful albeit a messy grave; especially when the ferny asparagus is wonderfully tangled with wild, bright orange daylilies. Many times, I have visited the old man's grave and picked a meal of asparagus, or later in summer, plucked a few daylily pods for a stir fry. When I glean, I always thank him, bless him and tell him that he is still farming and feeding.-M

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    1. Oh, M, that is a delightful story! What do they say? Old farmers never die? This one IS still farming and feeding. Lovely.

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  11. I snap the ends off like a bean. They tend to pick the best spot I think. I hold each end and bend till it pops.

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    1. Lisa - Just goes to show there's more than one way to prepare a spear of asparagus!

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  12. Mama Pea,

    Your asparagus looks amazing. This is one vegetable I truly enjoy planting.
    It really doesn't matter the size of the asparagus stalk, it's all good :-)
    Whether you eat it raw (directly out of the garden) or cooked it always satisfies :-)

    Hugs,
    Sandy

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    1. Sandy - You bet! I agree wholeheartedly!!

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