What Does Asparagus Taste Like? [Plus, How To Tell When It Goes Bad]

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that many people don’t find until they’re older. Having never been exposed to it before, you may be hesitant to try this strange-looking vegetable without know how it tastes or how to tell when it’s good or bad.

Asparagus has a taste similar to broccoli but with a mild earthy bitterness. Older asparagus will take on a slightly sour taste.

In this article, I’ll go over how to pick ripe asparagus and answer other commonly asked questions so you don’t waste your money on this expensive vegetable by buying bad ones.

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garden asparagus spread across a countertop

How To Tell If Asparagus Is Bad

You can tell whether asparagus is fresh from the stalk. If the stalk goes in a firm straight line and is smooth, the asparagus is fresh. The asparagus tips should be firm and not easily bendable.

Old asparagus is going to take on a rubber-like quality and won’t have the crispness of fresh asparagus. The stalks will be curved and the skin will be wrinkled. The tips at the end will be limp and the color may start turning brown.

Asparagus color is important when determining whether its bad or not. Brighter colors equate to freshness. Look for a rich green color. Occasionally, the tips will have purple highlights which is perfectly natural.

When you go to the store to buy asparagus, look at the size. Since they bundle the spears together, make sure all the stalks are similar in height. Size varies in asparagus so they can be big or small and still be good.

What Does Asparagus Taste Like?

This asparagus is delicious! There is a reason this is a popular choice for meals. Asparagus has a rich earthy flavor that gives it savoriness. Asparagus takes on an earthy flavor like broccoli but can have a slightly sour taste if the spears are older.

Texture-wise it is a chewy vegetable so that you can pick it apart piece by piece. It tastes much better when you drizzle it in lemon juice or olive oil. You can eat asparagus raw which will retain it’s somewhat crunchy and earthy flavor.

What Is Asparagus?

Asparagus is a long green vegetable made of stalks or spears. It comes from parts of Europe, Asia, and Northwest Africa. Asparagus is in the lily family and is related to garlic, onions, and leeks.

Historically asparagus was such a popular dish, Emperor Augustus commissioned a personal fleet to haul the vegetable.

It is a spring vegetable that grows in harvest fields. It differs from other vegetables since it should only be harvested from established plants two years and older.

Overall Shape, Color, and Texture

Asparagus comes in long stalks, also known as spears. They’re typically a light green color but can also be found in yellowish-white.

Fresh asparagus spears have a firm thick surface. Cutting them with a knife should not be difficult though.

The base of the asparagus is very woody. When preparing asparagus, these weedy ends are typically removed. They can be used in making vegetable stock but are too fibrous to eat like the rest of the spear.

Why Does Asparagus Make Your Urine Smell?

Asparagus is full of asparagusic acid that gives asparagus it’s unique smell. Some people describe this as a rotten cabbage smell.

People have noted that after they’ve eaten asparagus, their urine smells different. This is caused by the asparagusic acid being metabolized into sulfur-containing compounds. (source)

Don’t worry though. This change in smell only lasts up to 14 hours after eating asparagus.

How To Prepare Asparagus

The first step is to rinse your spears clean. Second, snap off the woody ends. You can discard these or save them to add flavor to broth. The woody ends are sider and harder than the rest of the stalk.

With your cleaned spears, you can cook them a variety of ways:

  • Eat them raw
  • Grilled
  • Sautéed
  • Baked
  • Steaming
  • Stir-Frying
  • Blanching
  • Chopped into salads

To season asparagus spears, you don’t need much more than salt and pepper and a generous helping of lemon juice. They also taste good drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

How To Store Asparagus

Asparagus does best when stored woody end down. Wrap a moist paper towel around the base and then place the stalks in the fridge. Never leave asparagus out on the counter for storing because it will quickly wilt and become soggy.

A standard method is to cover your asparagus with a plastic bag and put it in a glass jar. This allows the vegetable to last five to ten days in the fridge as a result. Leaving it longer than this tends to dry the stalks out.

Cooked asparagus should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and eaten the next day. It tends to get soggy when storing after cooking.

You can also freeze asparagus for use until winter. Typically farmers pick asparagus in the spring but if you use freeze some, you can enjoy asparagus year-round.

Conclusion

While asparagus looks different from most other vegetables, it seems familiar with it’s similar earthy broccoli taste. Just keep in mind that the older the asparagus is, the more sour undertones it will take on.

I genuinely believe asparagus is an excellent complement to everyday meals. You can use it in several vegan-based recipes and give a distinctive flavor to soups and pasta.

If you want to try it for yourself, be mindful of its freshness and make sure you remove the woody ends before cooking. Fresh asparagus makes a healthy snack as it is rich in flavor and nutrients. If you’ve never tasted it before, you should give it a try.

What are your thoughts on asparagus’ taste and smell?

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Stephanie Mantilla

Plant-Based Diet & Vegan Lifestyle Expert

Stephanie is the founder of Plant Prosperous, a plant-based vegan living, and parenting blog. She has been eating a plant-based diet for over 24 years along with a B.S. in Biology & Environmental Science. She also has over 14 years of experience working in the environmental and conservation sectors. Stephanie is currently raising her son on a plant-based diet and hopes to help others who are wanting to do the same. You can read more about her here.

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