Have you come across a recipe that demands that you peel asparagus. Or have you been watching a cookery show only to notice that all chefs peel their asparagus? Well… Does asparagus need to be peeled or not?
No, asparagus does not need to be peeled. It is perfectly safe to eat asparagus without peeling it beforehand and, in most cases, you won’t even notice much of a difference.
How to Peel Asparagus
There’s nothing wrong with peeling asparagus and it can be more aesthetic and clean to peel it. So, if you’re set on peeling it then here is how to go about doing so:
All you need to do is grab a vegetable peeler or a shaping paring knife and then start peeling away the dark green skin on the bottom half of the asparagus spears.
When you peel it away, it should reveal a vibrant green and, in some parts, white flesh. Be very careful about how much of the asparagus you peel. In most cases, you only need to take off a very thin layer.
Once you’ve peeled them, trim off a small piece of the bottom of the asparagus – barely half an inch – as this can be a little woody.
How to Peel Asparagus Successfully
If you’ve decided to peel asparagus then here are a few tips you’ll want to follow before doing so:
- Don’t Do It In Advance – You should peel them just before cooking them and not in advance unless you want flopping asparagus.
- Go Slow – The last thing you want to do is obliterate each asparagus spear and peel away more than you’re left with. Go slow, and try to remove the smallest amount of skin as you possibly can.
- Don’t Throw Peelings Away – Those peelings will be loaded with goodness both in the form of nutrients and flavour. Don’t throw them out! Instead, use them to make up the base of stocks.
- Still Trim the Ends – Whether you’ve decided to peel the spears or not, you still need to give them a quick trim. Just slice off the bottom half an inch or so. Yes, you can snap them where they naturally break (but this is a myth).
Why You Should Peel Asparagus?
Although we’ve preached that peeling asparagus really isn’t necessary. There are a couple of reasons for doing so:
Apparently Looks Better
By peeling asparagus, you reveal a vibrant green flesh that, to some, does look a little nicer on the plate.
By all means, if you run a Michelin-starred restaurant from your kitchen then crack on and peel them. If, however, you’re just cooking a few asparagus spears to have with your dinner on a Wednesday night then, it’s safe to say, you can skip on the peeling.
Helps with Even Cooking
If you have particularly uneven-sized asparagus or spears that have really thick bases with skinny tops then peeling them can help make their size more uniform leading to a more even cook.
Also bear in mind that the tips of asparagus will still take significantly less time to cook than the stalks themselves.
Why You Shouldn’t Peel Asparagus?
Of course, there are reasons for just not bothering with peeling them in the first place. But you’ve probably guessed them already:
Waste of Time
As asparagus is perfectly safe to eat without peeling them, you’ve got to consider why you’d waste your time doing so. It’s not the speediest of tasks and can be quite fiddly.
Before you know it, 15 minutes have gone by and you’re left with a pile of asparagus peelings and some slightly better-looking spears. Was it worth it? Probably not!
Waste of Goodness
Like most vegetables, the skin is loaded with nutrients. By peeling asparagus, you’re throwing this goodness into the bin. Ultimately, you’ll be eating asparagus for the benefits it brings to your body so why throw that goodness out?
You might as well throw money out of the window!
No, not really! Asparagus stalks can be cooked straight away without much in the way of prep besides a quick trim of the ends. You can peel it but it is far from essential.
Peeling Asparagus FAQs
Do you still have questions about asparagus and whether or not you ought to peel them? Then these might help you out:
Although asparagus peelings are edible, they won’t be particularly enjoyable and can be quite fibrous. Instead, use asparagus peelings (along with any other peelings) to make flavourful vegetable stocks.
Yes, unlike green asparagus, white asparagus has a thicker more fibrous outer skin which must be peeled before it is cooked.
You don’t need to peel thick asparagus but it can actually help it to cook evenly. If you peel the thicker end so that it is the same thickness as the top, you’ll ensure it all cooks at the same time.