That right there is wild asparagus, gathered by my in-laws, my husband, and me on my husband’s birthday this past weekend. We went asparagus hunting, hunter-gatherer style! This activity should be a common thing to do in the spring, but I don’t personally know anyone else who does it.
Asparagus can be pretty expensive at the grocery store, as you know. So driving a few miles out of Boulder to a few irrigation ditches to scour the earth for some of those delectable green spears was a small price to pay for about 3 pounds of asparagus.
Normally, asparagus is ripe for the picking in the month of May, at least in Colorado.
But on June 1st we still managed to find a whole bunch. Asparagus is not particularly easy to find, but it’s worth it if you do. I was only smart enough to snap that one photo of the asparagus in the bowl, but I wish I’d gotten some of what the asparagus plants looked like on the ground.
Luckily, www.boulderlocavore.com has an awesome post on exactly what my family and I did this weekend with lots of pictures. You can see that it just grows right up from the ground like a thick piece of grass. Sometimes it’s in clusters and other times it’s not. We found some grass near an irrigation ditch that had recently been burned, so the asparagus spears were very obvious in the bare soil.
By this time of the year, a lot of the asparagus has bolted, which means it’s really tall and mostly tough.
But we picked some of the smaller spears off the top of those bolted plants and it was super tender. There was plenty that wasn’t bolted, too, but that won’t last long. I ate a bunch while we were picking it. I know, I know – I should’ve washed it off beforehand, but I couldn’t resist.
One bad thing about this hunter gatherer expedition was that we have no idea what, if anything, was sprayed on and around the field that irrigation ditch was irrigating. It could’ve been crop dusted – I have no idea. So don’t do this if you have any serious sensitivities to pesticides and herbicides. Or make sure you know what’s being sprayed on the asparagus. We were doing this because it was (very) fun – not because we plan to get our asparagus from there every day, so please no tsk tsking in the comments :)
One rule: NEVER EVER go onto private property to collect asparagus.
We found a public space along a road that was not behind a fence. I wouldn’t want to disrespect a landowner, much less test the “Make My Day” law. Coloradans love their guns, after all…
When I think of asparagus, I think, ‘delicious vegetable, but kind of bitter and it makes stinky pee.’
Well, this wild asparagus was somehow not very bitter at all, and it hardly made my pee smell. So that was awesome.
How We Cooked It
We coated the asparagus with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and stuck it in our Traeger (smoker) in a colander so the smoke could permeate it. Needless to say, I have no picture, but it was amazing.
The point of all this is that someday, before it’s too late (in other words, very soon), you should take a drive out to the country, find a healthy irrigation ditch, and get your hands dirty looking for asparagus. You’ll know it when you see it!