You sometimes wonder, can you eat all parts of asparagus? Asparagus is a favourite part of many dishes. However, despite the high nutritional value of these vegetables, it can be not very clear to know which parts to eat. Certain parts of asparagus can cause digestive problems when eaten, so it is important to understand which parts are edible and which are not.
The parts of asparagus you eat include the unripe tender shoots or tips, the spears, and the fleshy stems. These parts are often eaten raw in salads, boiled, grilled or baked. The best time to harvest these parts is when the plant is at least two years old and about 6 to 10 inches (15.24 to 25.4 cm).
Read on for details on the parts of asparagus you should eat, ways to prepare the vegetable, and guidelines to follow to preserve its heat-sensitive nutrients that can be lost through overcooking.
Table of Contents
What parts of Asparagus Do you Eat?
The entire stalk of asparagus is not edible, so it’s important to know which parts of the vegetable it is to maximize its flavour.
Let’s take a look at the edible parts of asparagus:
- Stems. The stalk of asparagus starts about two inches (five centimetres) from the bottom or where it starts to harden. This part should be cut off with a sharp knife, so the vegetables stay fresh longer.
When preparing this vegetable, it is important not to include any greenish-white tissue on the stems, as this type of tissue gives it an unpleasant flavour.
- Immature shoots (spikes). It is usually the highest part of the stem. The shoot is about 0.5 inches (1.27 centimetres) long. This part is delicious and can be eaten raw or cooked.
The tips are also suitable for decoration if they are first peeled with a knife.
- Spear. You can eat spears whole, but if you don’t like food covered in tough fibres, it’s okay to peel them before cooking.
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What is the edible part of Asparagus?
If you’re not aware of how much asparagus you can eat, chances are you’ll throw away some edible parts. That’s why I think it’s important to know how much of the stem of this plant can contribute to your dietary needs.
The size of an edible asparagus stalk is about six inches (or about 15 centimetres). This includes its fleshy stems, young spears and tender shoots. In most recipes, the lower ends and roots are then disposed of.
However, you can also use the lower part of the stalk in other ways, such as juicing or composting.
Inedible parts of Asparagus
Now that you know which parts of asparagus are edible, let’s break down the parts that aren’t:
- Lower ends. The bottom ends tend to harden and have an unpleasant taste when cooked.
- Root. Asparagus roots are also considered inedible because they harden when cooked.
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Do You Eat the Top of the Asparagus?
Ideally, you should cut about 3 inches (7.6 centimetres) of the asparagus from the base up. This should provide enough tasty stem to enjoy in your recipe.
Before cooking, remove the bottom end of the vegetable to prevent it from becoming bitter. What remains is a sweet, fleshy stalk that is a pleasure to eat as it cooks.
Why don’t you eat the bottom of asparagus?
There’s a good reason you don’t want to eat the end of an asparagus stalk. The bottom itself is not just a skin that covers and protects the delicacy of your food.
You don’t eat the lower end of asparagus because it is hard, bitter and stringy, making it unpleasant to eat. The bitterness is caused by chemicals that accumulate in the lower part of the stem.
Therefore, it is recommended to discard this part before cooking.
Can you Eat the ends of asparagus?
Asparagus ends can be tough and woody, so it’s a good idea to cut them off before eating or cooking the vegetable.
To remove the ends of asparagus, grasp the woody end of the vegetable with your thumb and forefinger. Bend it until it clicks, then discard this end. The other ends are trimmed by cutting off any leaves that come from the edible part at the tip of the stem using a chef’s knife or salad shears.
Leaving about an inch on each side leaves chunks to toss into soup or salads. From there, remove any tough fibres with a vegetable peeler before layering them onto the skewers into your favourite dish!
Do you have to peel asparagus?
You can peel asparagus if you want to get rid of the stringy outer layer. Peeling is unnecessary, however, as the fibre improves digestion and gives these vegetables a nice crunchy texture.
You can peel asparagus by hand or with a peeler. Using the first approach can be daunting, especially if you decide to include these vegetables in your regular diet. To avoid the hassle that comes with it, I recommend this peeler from Amazon.
Can You Eat the entire Asparagus? Can we Cook it?
There are many ways to cook asparagus, and they all have the same result; delicious, tender green spears.
Some of these methods include:
- Cooking. You can cook the asparagus if you want to use it in pasta and you want to mix the vegetables with the sauce. However, you should never cook asparagus too long to avoid losing some heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C.
- Baking. Roasted asparagus is ideal when sliced thinly. This is the best method if you are pressed for time. In addition, baking gives it a soft, springy texture.
- Grilling. The best time to grill asparagus is when you bend the stem slightly. In addition, it is difficult to cook evenly on both sides. However, keep the heat to a minimum by closing the grill vents to prevent overheating and damage to these delicate vegetables.
- Steaming. I recommend steaming the asparagus when it’s fresh and when you need to enjoy it crunchy. Steaming helps preserve their fresh green colour and crunchy texture. It is best to steam these vegetables for no more than 3 minutes to get the most nutrients.
How to prepare asparagus?
Can you eat all parts of asparagus? You can easily eat the asparagus if you prepare it right. Here’s how to prepare asparagus step by step:
- Wash the asparagus to remove dirt and slime.
- Cut the stem two inches (five centimetres) above where it meets the vegetable.
- Wash it once more and let the water drain.
- Use your hand or a knife to break off the woody ends of the stems.
- Cook the asparagus using your preferred method, or refrigerate it for later use.
How do you know you’ve overcooked asparagus?
You’ll know you’ve overcooked asparagus when the outer parts are mushy and brown and the stems are wilted. If you poke one of the spears with a fork, it snaps in half without resistance. Also, overcooked asparagus has a wet texture and a distinctly bitter taste.
On the other hand, well-cooked asparagus has a firm stalk and an olive green appearance.
Plus, you can pierce each spear of properly cooked asparagus three or four times before they start to break.
If you are still wondering, can you eat all parts of asparagus? For some, asparagus is a delicacy. However, others may enjoy it only for its nutritional value and taste. Regardless of which category you fall into, there are guidelines to follow when preparing these vegetables.
First, it’s important to know that about six inches of asparagus are edible. These parts include the fleshy stems, spears and any attached leaves.
Do not eat the lower wooden part – it tends to be more fibrous than the other parts. Before preparing this vegetable, you should cut off about three inches of the bottom end.