Everytime I cook white asparagus it has these strings in it, which are not really pleasant. Is it normal thing? Or I am doing something wrong? I peel asparagus and cook it in boiling water for 15 minutes in boiling water.

  • 2
    Maybe you don't peel them thoroughly enough?
    – Mr Lister
    May 17, 2015 at 17:31
  • @MrLister yeah maybe, but what is enough?
    – Andrey
    May 17, 2015 at 18:38
  • I wished I could tell you. I have the same problem.
    – Mr Lister
    May 17, 2015 at 20:34
  • How big were the stalks? I avoid any asparagus with stalks wider than about 1/2 inch in diameter, preferably thiner. The older (bigger) they are, the stringier they are.
    – Catija
    May 17, 2015 at 21:16
  • @Catija yeah I think thicker, I can't measure I ate them anyway, but they were pretty thick.
    – Andrey
    May 17, 2015 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


Contrary to popular belief, older asparagus is not what causes larger stalks and larger stalks are not tougher than thin stalks. The size of the stalk is determined by the variety of asparagus.

As cited in this article in the NYTimes , asparagus will start to get tough immediately upon cutting. It starts to toughen at the bottom and continues up the stalk. The asparagus need to be chilled very soon after cutting to prevent this.

Most of this loss of sweetness and toughening happens in the first day after harvest. Farmers can minimize it by chilling new-cut asparagus right away. But a delay of just four hours between harvest and chilling causes the spears to toughen significantly. So does allowing the chilled spears to warm up to 60 degrees or more in a grocery display or at the farmers’ market.

So, in short the toughness is most likely caused by improper storage when the asparagus is harvested.

We have two asparagus beds and we chose a large stalk variety as it seemed to have a little more flavor (to us). Once or twice we have let the stalks grow to over 2' long and they were still tender. That said, when we cut them, they are immediately refrigerated and stay chilled until we cook them.

  • 1
    +1, we also always keep them moist, either by submerging them in water or wrapping them in a wet towel, to prevent them drying out. May 18, 2015 at 12:46
  • If improper storage is guilty, I have no control over it, I bought it in supermarket and cooked the same day.
    – Andrey
    May 18, 2015 at 13:01
  • You are correct. Unfortunately we have no control over the handling and storage of items as they go through the steps to market. And this means we cannot always be assured of the highest quality. To that end, almost anything can be compromised but asparagus is more easily affected than other items.
    – Cindy
    May 18, 2015 at 13:18
  • @Cindy: True indeed. Asparagus is very delicate in that way. I always recommend buying them from a farmer. In Holland, the harvest season is very short (about two months, usually half way April to end of June), best not to let those two months go to waste by buying inferior ones from a supermarket. May 18, 2015 at 14:56

Usually stringiness is caused by not peeling them enough. Internal stringiness might be caused by overcooking the asparagus (assuming the asparagus is otherwise fine, and not woody).

I only cook them for around 8 minutes in boiling water, then take them of the heat, and let them rest in the water for another 8 minutes.

  • Hm I thought overcooking is only softening. I will try to boil less.
    – Andrey
    May 18, 2015 at 13:00
  • I don't have science to back it up, and am going by experience here, but on every single occasion that they turned out stringy, they all shared the following common properties: 1) They were properly peeled, 2) Not old, nor woody (fresh from the land actually, I never buy them from the supermarket), 3) Overboiled. It loses structure, and you're eating basically "strands of asparagus" which might explain the stringy texture. But I'm positive that the way of storage as Cindy mentioned has a definitive impact, and probably to a greater extent than overboiling. May 18, 2015 at 14:46

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