This post covers how to trim and peel asparagus correctly. Also, the best tool to peel asparagus is covered: is it a vegetable peeler or a special asparagus peeler?
Types of Asparagus
Asparagus is a delicious spring vegetable that comes in two varieties – green and white. Asparagus is usually harvested when young to prevent the shoots from becoming too woody. White asparagus grows in the dark in order to prevent photosynthesis – resulting in the white color.
White Asparagus and Green Asparagus
The Need to Trim Asparagus
Asparagus stalks can be tough and fibrous. They grow straight up and require structural support that may not be desirable for eating. The older the plant, the thicker the stalk. The toughest part of the asparagus shoot is at the bottom. Also, the outer layers of the asparagus shoot are the most tough with the inside being the most tender.
How to Trim and Peel Asparagus
Trimming the Asparagus
Asparagus toughness can be remedied by proper asparagus trimming. Since the toughest part is at the bottom, simply cut off the bottom part of the asparagus shoots. The amount to cut off varies on how tough or tender the asparagus is – usually it is about an inch.
Peeling the Asparagus
Since the outer layers are the toughest, the next step is to peel the outer portion of the asparagus shoot. This is done for some length of the asparagus stalk. Some will peel only the bottom inch of the asparagus stalk while others may peel the bottom quarter, bottom half, or the entire stalk. This is up to you – the more you peel, the more tender the asparagus. However the more you peel, the more asparagus goes into the bin. Also, you will lose the beautiful green color that results after poaching or boiling if the outer layer is removed. When peeling, go in the direction from top to bottom of the stalk.
Which tool to use to peel asparagus – vegetable peeler or special asparagus peeler?
You can peel asparagus with two types of tools: a specialized asparagus peeler or a regular vegetable peeler. How to peel asparagus optimally requires selecting the best tool.
Specialized Asparagus Peeler
The first type of asparagus peeler resembles a small pair of tongs with a sharp blade on one side. The asparagus shoot (or other long vegetable) is places within a groove on the bottom side of the peeler. The blade is on the top. Peel the asparagus by running the peeler along the length of the stalk. The Westmark model above is reasonably priced and has received generally good reviews.
The second asparagus peeler from OXO is basically a normal vegetable peeler with a rounded blade. The rounded blade makes it easier to follow the natural contours of the asparagus when trimming. This asparagus trimmer also works on other round long vegetables. It is also reasonably priced and gets good reviews on Amazon.
Basic Vegetable Peeler
A basic vegetable peeler – either y shape or straight – works perfectly well to trim asparagus. Simply lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board. Then gently run the peeler down the shoot. Slightly rotate the asparagus stalk and repeat. Or some prefer to elevate the top of the asparagus when peeling. Find a small object like an upside down bowl to rest the top of the asparagus shoot on. Now gently peel down the elevated stalk, rotate, and repeat.
The original Swiss peeler above is the best peeler in my opinion for everything, including asparagus. It is light, simple to use, sharp, and affordable. The blade may rust a bit … but hey … nobody’s perfect.
Best Asparagus Peeler
In my opinion, the best asparagus peeler is a basic vegetable peeler and not a specialized asparagus peeler. The Swiss peeler above is the best choice for vegetable peeling across the board. However, if you’re the type who likes specialized kitchen gadgets, then the specialized asparagus peelers above are good choices.