Return to Content

How to Cook Asparagus | Yankee Kitchen

How to Cook Asparagus | Yankee Kitchen
0 votes, 0.00 avg. rating (0% score)

asparagusQ: My mother taught me how to cook asparagus by boiling it for half an hour or so with a pinch of baking soda in the water. It got awfully soft, but the color was a nice bright green. I don’t cook my asparagus for nearly so long, but it still turns mushy if I use the baking soda. Is there some other part of the trick that would keep this from happening?

A: Acid changes the bright green chlorophyll to yellow-green and gray-green (think of what happens when you put vinaigrette on those bright green beans). The natural acid in vegetables is liberated by heat, and when cell walls break down, color-destroying enzymes are also turned loose. Boiling green vegetables in a small amount of water means bathing them in a virtual soup of color destroyers. Add something alkaline, such as baking soda, and the chemical reactions are altered so the chlorophyll turns bright green.

Unfortunately, alkalinity also speeds up the breakdown of plant tissues. Cell walls break down, vitamins leak out — it’s not a pretty picture. The most common solution is to drop the cut up asparagus (or broccoli, or green beans, or cabbage, if it comes to that) into a big, uncovered pot full of boiling salted water. Cook only until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, then drain promptly. Serve at once, or if you’re making salad, plunge into ice water to stop the cooking, then drain again.

This treatment works because the big cat of boiling water dilutes the plant’s acids and rapidly destroys most of the color-damaging enzymes. On the other hand, all that water does remove a little flavor and a lot of vitamins.

The solution to the solution for how to cook asparagus? Stir-fry. Stir-frying isn’t picture-perfect, but because the cooking is speedy, and the enzyme-loaded steam dissipates rapidly, it does produce tasty, reasonably good-looking results. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, on the diagonal, so the inside is exposed, and it will cook quickly. Stir-fry over high heat until just tender, 2 or 3 minutes and serve at once.

 

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Yankee Magazine Advertising

Bring New England Home
plus, get the Tablet Edition FREE!

In this issue: A Real New England Christmas

  • Vintage Decorating Tips
  • Mission to Maine's Islands
  • Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge
  • Bonus! Holiday Cookbook
Subscribe Today and Save 44%
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

We reserve the right to remove or edit comments that are offensive or disrespectful to our readers and/or writers, cannot be verified, lack clarity, or contain profanity. Your comments may be republished by Yankee Magazine across multiple platforms.

Register Sign In

©2013, Yankee Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Yankee Publishing Inc., | P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444 | (603) 563-8111

2014-nov-gift-sub400x400
80th-anniversart-calendar600x350-order