Asparagus is the young and tender shoots of a perennial plant having erect multi-branched stems and slender branchlets.
Look for asparagus with plump stalks. Shriveling indicates age and poor storage. It is available canned or frozen as well.
To keep asparagus at its freshest, cut off one inch from the bottom of the stems and stand in a container tall enough to hold them upright. Add about two inches of water, cover loosely with the plastic bag from which it came, and place in the refrigerator; otherwise, the stalks could shrivel, diminishing both texture and flavor. Add more water as needed to keep the bottoms covered.
Cut or snap off woody bottoms of stems before cooking. Asparagus takes best to steaming or braising and can be served warm or as a salad with vinaigrette.
Asparagus is a good source of vitamin A and contains some iron and vitamins B and C.