Friday, May 21, 2010

Foraging For Asparagus

I had a chance to go foraging for asparagus with a friend yesterday,  she has been foraging for years so I jumped at the chance to learn from her experience and took the afternoon off work.  She taught me where to look for asparagus.  These two stalks were growing in a ditch along the road, she said to look for clumps of last year's dry stalks.

Then to search around the grass, pushing it aside.  Sometimes you can be looking right at a asparagus spear and not even see it since it blends in so well, you have to train your eye to look for a shade difference or she said to watch as the grass blows in the wind, the asparagus does not move.  She also said to walk around the old stalk and look at it from all different angles.  I found myself reaching right over the top of a spear to pick another one, never seeing the first until she pointed it out.  The spear in the photo below is right behind the dried flower.

We found clumps of asparagus along railroad tracks, in ditches and on the side of a hill right in town, which is  beside a busy road, growing among the sumac.

My friend said asparagus will continue to grow in those same spots sending up more shoots every few days or so.  She said it can be picked until the middle of June and then needs to be left alone so the plant can continue to grow and thrive.  The female plants will flower and grow berries that the birds will eat and then deposit seeds to grow in other areas. I came home with a fair amount of asparagus and a head full of knowledge about where to look and how to spot asparagus.  We enjoyed roasted asparagus for dinner, along with leftover quiche.  I drizzled olive over the asparagus in a pan and roasted it at 400 degrees, sprinkled with salt as it came out, mmm.  My favorite way to eat asparagus though, is fresh and raw, tastes like fresh garden peas.