It's the end of asparagus season here in south-central Montana, but you can still get your money's worth. Just keep an eye out for telltale fronds by the roadside.
But lucky me, I just drove a couple of miles to a friend's ranch, and we took off in her "mule" to hunt wild asparagus that is a little easier to wrangle than that stuff by the road.
We walked a lot because neighbors had already been through and picked the obvious plants, but there was still plenty to gather. I came home with 2 pounds plus another 2 pounds from my friend Christy, who said she was getting sick of asparagus. Go figure.
In some ways, it's easier to find asparagus at the end of the season than at the beginning because all you have to do is look for tall brown fronds. Somewhere beneath those dead branches is the root stock and new spears may be emerging even now.
Green bushy fronds are easy to spot, too, and pretty.
In any case, you might find only one spear, but it could be a beaut.
By the way, thick spears are supposed to be tastier than thin ones. I usually nibble on the tiny ones as I go and they taste fine to me.
Pretty soon, I had enough for at least one meal, maybe two, and most likely I'll have enough to make soup and freeze it for later. Here's a photo of my 2 pounds.
It was a nice day for walking and gathering. Much more fun than going to the store.
I searched online to get some more information and found Alton Brown's Good Eats episode, "The Age of Asparagus," where I learned you should store asparagus straight up in a glass container with about 1 inch of water in the bottom.
Excuse while I chuckle heartily. Everyone I know who gathers wild asparagus either eats it immediately, or tucks it away in the bottom of the refrigerator in the plastic bag they gathered it into. In my experience, it should be okay like that for a week.
And Alton has some scientific theories about how much to trim off the bottom before cooking. Well, if you have wild asparagus, you just use whatever looks edible, which is most of it.
But I did learn from Alton that asparagus tastes best cooked and that nutmeg has a taste component in it that magnifies taste components in asparagus, so be sure to always add a pinch of nutmeg.
Asparagus has all sorts of good nutrients in it, but I was most impressed to find it is chock-full of folate, which helps your body keep a healthy heart and avoid cancer.
Easy! Place asparagus spears on a sheet of foil on a pan. Drizzle olive oil over all. Place in a 500-degree oven for 5 minutes. Take out and turn asparagus over. Return to oven for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and a dash of nutmeg.