In the May 6th edition of The Curious Cook, I write about asparagus: why and how it toughens after harvest, how to slow its toughening, and whether snapping the stalk really separates the tough from the tender.
IT’S spring at last: prime time for a vegetable that does not go gently into our food chain, that keeps binding up its harvest wounds even as it’s shipped and stored, growing and bending upward to find the sun. A vegetable whose texture horticultural engineers test by tapping it with a tiny hammer and listening to it vibrate.
Asparagus is the hardest-living stalk in the produce business, a challenge to farmers and grocers and cooks alike. The stalks quickly toughen from the bottom up, and it’s no snap to tell the tough portion from the tender.