Don't Snap Asparagus; Peel It

Snapping may be the most popular method of asparagus prep—but it’s surprisingly wasteful.

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When preparing asparagus, many recipes instruct the cook to snap the tough bottoms of the spears off. The thinking is that the spear will break at the point where the tough fibrous bottom and tender green top meet. 

But the truth is, depending on where you place your hands and apply force to your spear, you can actually break the asparagus anywhere along its length. The snapping method can thus be wasteful, resulting in perfectly good asparagus getting snapped off and sent to the compost bin.

So what is actually the best way to cut asparagus? We advocate for a two part method of trimming with a knife and then peeling the base of the stalks. Here’s why.

Why Snapping Isn’t Worth It

To find out exactly how much less waste is generated by trimming asparagus rather than snapping it, we divided bunches of standard and jumbo spears in half and snapped one group of spears and trimmed and peeled the other. 

We weighed the spears before and after. What did we find?

Spears that were snapped lost an average of half their weight, while trimming and peeling resulted in a loss of less than 30 percent. The thicker the spear, the more pronounced the difference when snapped.

SNAPPED: Snapping the natural breaking point means losing half the weight of almost every spear.

PEELED: Trimming 1 inch and then peeling the woody exterior results in a heftier spear.

How to Cut and Peel Asparagus

Trimming is a much less wasteful way to prep your asparagus—plus it results in neater, more uniform vegetables. We also take the quick extra step of peeling the base of the spears to ensure the asparagus is as tender throughout as possible. Here’s our method.

  1. Trim 1 inch off the base of the spears.

  2. Check to make sure that what remains of the spear looks moist. If it looks woody and dry, trim a little more.

  3. Peel the lower half of each spear with a vegetable peeler to remove its woody exterior.

Our Favorite Asparagus Recipes

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