It’s usually quite expensive — maybe that’s why asparagus is known as the King of the Vegetables. And it’s only available for a few months of the year. What Ira and I have discovered, though, is this: wild asparagus is free, abundant, fun to hunt for, more delicious than any asparagus we’ve had before, and can be a regular feature on your weekday winter table.
Foraging for wild asparagus elevates any winter nature walk into a sport, and encourages even the most apathetic, “I’m not really a nature person” person to see the grass under their feet as ripe with possibility. I’m not heading out on my hikes to find fennel or mustard; if I come across it, sababa, and maybe I’ll pick a few leaves or seeds. But asparagus? Those babies are worth planning your day around.
So here’s what to look for:
Notice the small, pointed and prickly leaves, with errant crazy neon-green shoots poking through (or often hiding within the bramble — wear heavy gloves!)
Sometimes you may just see a single, lonely stalk just waiting to be picked (but these will usually be near the green prickly bushes in the videos above):
I’ll tell you one of the best things about asparagus foraging: you feel initiated into a great, silent club of others who are also out hunting for asparagus. Often you’ll come to a promising bush to find that someone else has beaten you to the chase (if you can see below, the stalks here were harvested before we got there — maybe an hour ago? Maybe a week? Not much more than that).
But isn’t it wonderful? For maybe the first time, you feel deeply in tune with others who also wish to share in the bounty of this lush and boundlessly generous winter without jostling in the cashier’s line. I’m happy for whoever got here first, and I hope they’ve feasted well.
While Ira once brought home a quick and marvelous haul by just pulling over by the side of the road and harvesting the ample shoots he had spotted, that foraging experience can’t compare with going just a few minutes farther afield. We have abundant trails all over the Lower Galil chock-full of asparagus bushes. This time, we spent some blissful, quiet hours close to home, eating straight from the bush, and bringing the rest back for the kids’ dinner.
Would be great to hit the trails with you for some prime asparagus hunting during your next winter trip up north!