Foraging and Preserving Wild Asparagus
One of the best times to be a forager is in the spring. Everything in nature comes alive. All types of plants are popping up, and one of my favorites is wild asparagus. In a previous post, I showed you how to identify wild asparagus in the fall. Now it is time to go back to your spots and start picking. It has been a warm spring here in the northeast, and the wild asparagus decided to show up early this year. I have been out to my patches several times, and the yield has been quite good. This season is still not over, and I will be back for some more. Here is what I have found.
How to Forage for Wild Asparagus
Wild asparagus likes to grow mostly in fields and by fences. I have also seen them growing in some odd locations. Once you know how to spot them, your eyes get trained. I had had several occasions when I was driving somewhere and see them when I least expected to. The best way to find them in the spring is to look for the old straw-like remains from last year’s plants. You will most likely find new shoots sprouting up underneath or next to the old remains. Take care not to step on any of the new shoots.
Here is what you should see from last years remains:
Picking Wild Asparagus
I have found the best way to pick wild asparagus is with a good knife. Make sure to cut the asparagus off below the ground. Slide your knife all the way down where the stem meets the ground and slice it off. You want to pick the asparagus that is newly sprouting. Wild asparagus grows very quickly. Once the plant starts to bush out, it’s too late to pick that one. I usually go back to my spots every few days until the season is over. Please don’t over-pick. It is a good habit to allow several of the plants to bush out or go to seed. It will make for a recurring crop year after year. I have heard stories of some asparagus spots yielding for about 100 years.
As you can see, wild asparagus blends right into the landscape. They look like blades of grass.
Preserving Your Wild Asparagus
Once you have all these asparagus, how do you preserve it? I like to freeze it using my FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System. The FoodSaver is a great device that allows you to place food in a bag, and it then takes all of the air out of it. This allows you to freeze the food much longer due to less freezer burn. It is a great way to save money and preserve your harvest or foraged goods.
The FoodSaver V2244 vacuum sealing system comes in handy for preserving a variety of foods. Use it for everything from long-term storage of meats and fish in the freezer to short-term storage of deli meats and cheese in the fridge, as well as cookies, crackers, and other snacks in the pantry. Keep a busy kitchen running smoothly. When it comes to reliable food storage, the FoodSaver V2244 vacuum sealing system has you covered.
Here is the book I use to identify wild asparagus:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
This Edible Wild Plants Field Guide has nearly 400 color photos and detailed information on more than 200 species of edible plants all across North America. With all the plants conveniently organized by season, enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes, and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.
I start by blanching the asparagus for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the size. Then placing them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Make sure that you freeze the asparagus first before sealing them in the bag. I find that they seal much better. Just place them on a tray and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes before sealing.
You can see more of my foraging posts on my foraging page and books I recommend to help you get started.
Before you forage, please make sure you can properly identify what you are picking. Make sure to check yourself for ticks.
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This post was eye-opening… Wild Asparagus?? Never even knew Asparagus was native to anything other than the grocery store ;). Serious though, have you ever found or been worried about bugs inside of the asparagus? Starting a small garden is on my bucket list of things to do but never even thought about how these vegetables survive in the wild.
Wild Asparagus tastes just like what you find in the store. I have never found any bugs inside. It’s quite safe. Starting a garden is a great way to eat healthy and save some money. There is nothing like going out in the back yard and picking fresh produce. If you have any questions when you decide to start your garden, I would be happen to answer them.
Thanks for sharing this post. Like most urbanites I have never seen asparagus other than in the market. Cool seeing it grow like a grass. It’s amazing too that you can cultivate a crop that could potentially last for 100 years. Talk about a recurring stream of “dividends.” Thanks for sharing.
Sure. Glad you liked it.