How to Trim Asparagus

  • 01 of 03

    Start With Fresh Asparagus

    Fresh Asparagus
    Asparagus Ready to Trim. Molly Watson

    Fresh asparagus is a delectable spring treat, but if it isn't properly trimmed or prepared, the woody stems can be a real culinary drag. Even supremely tender, freshly harvested asparagus has some woody element starting somewhere down the stem, so take care and trim them well. This bend-and-snap method is a super easy way to make sure any asparagus you serve up has that great asparagus texture.

    Snapping is a quick and easy way to get asparagus ready to cook. While peeling asparagus yields a...MORE more elegant presentation, as well as more edible asparagus, in the final analysis, snapping is faster. Way faster.

    Since it is faster, it's the go-to method for when the asparagus is going to be chopped or puréed anyway, as in this Asparagus Soup or this Asparagus Leek Quiche.

    No matter which method you use, be sure to start with fresh asparagus. Look for firm spears with tight, compact heads and cut ends that aren't too dried out. As with almost all vegetables, choose asparagus that feels heavy for its size to avoid ending up with dried out or flavorless asparagus. Avoid wrinkled stems, dropping heads, browned ends, or dried out anything.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Bend Each Asparagus Spear Until It Snaps

    Snapped Asparagus
    Asparagus Spear, Snapped. Molly Watson

    If you want to rinse and pat the asparagus dry before you start, you can, or you can wait and just rinse the trimmed pieces.

    Work with one asparagus spear at a time:

    1. Pick up an asparagus spear and hold it firmly on each of its ends—really on its ends.
    2. Start to bend it up and a bit away from yourself by pulling both ends down and a bit towards you. 
    3. Keep gently bending the asparagus until it snaps. 

    Each spear will snap in its own place. When done properly, with some finesse that lets the asparagus...MORE break where it wants to, a sort of magic occurs in which each spear snaps off right above the spot where the asparagus turns woody.

    Repeat with the remaining spears, setting the trimmed asparagus and the trimmed-off stem ends in separate piles.

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Snapped and Trimmed Asparagus Spears

    Trimmed Asparagus
    Asparagus, Trimmed & Ready to Cook. Molly Watson

    As you can see above, each asparagus spear will naturally break off at its own point. Discard the cut stem ends; the tops are ready to use.

    Once trimmed, you can use asparagus trimmed this way in pretty much any asparagus recipe. The casual effect of the different lengths and snapped ends of asparagus trimmed this way is obviously good for recipes in which the asparagus is chopped, as previously mentioned, but it's also dandy for easy, rustic dishes such as  Grilled Asparagus and ​Roasted...MORE Asparagus.

    Go to How to Cook Asparagus for more ideas and great asparagus recipes.