The Set-And-Forget Trick To Get Rid Of Asparagus Grit

"Set it and forget it" isn't just the slogan of one of the most memorable infomercials of all time. It's also one of the greatest ways to cook and meal prep. No matter how much you love laboring over a delicate souffle or laminating dough for homemade croissants, time just doesn't always allow for those kinds of painstaking processes. For that matter, nobody has endless patience, and at the end of a long day, a complicated evening in the kitchen doesn't always sound great. So if there's a way to prep food that doesn't require a lot of babysitting, you can be sure it's going to be popular. (Just think about the nearly hands-off recipes for Instant Pots.) That's never more true than with preparing sandy or dirty vegetables, which is why the lazy cook's asparagus hack is nothing short of brilliant. 

No matter where you get it, asparagus is often and naturally dirty when it comes home to you from the grocery store or farmers market, but a quick soak is all it takes to remove the grit and get it ready to cook. 

The soak hack

Asparagus grows in the ground, so it makes sense that some of the natural dirt or grit still clings to it after it's harvested. Furthermore, the tips of asparagus have very small, feathery folds. They are the perfect places for dirt and grit to really hide and stick. You don't want to "dig around" looking for grit, though, for fear of damaging the tender tips.

As you can imagine, the thought of getting all that grime off the slender asparagus spears can seem a little daunting and feel a lot time-consuming. However, it need not be. All you need is a bowl of water and a little patience. Asparagus stalks should release any dirt if you simply submerge them, uncooked, in a bowl of cold water. Just leave the asparagus soaking for a few minutes to loosen the unpleasant grit and then rinse the stems under running water to fully release the dirt. That's it! 

No-fuss asparagus (and beyond)

Now that you know how to remove the annoying dirt and grit from asparagus spears, you probably can't wait to get in the kitchen with a bunch (or several bunches, because who can resist?) of asparagus and start cooking. But don't stop there. You can use the cold-water hack with herbs. The cold water is especially useful for leafy herbs like cilantro and parsley that tend to grab dirt. You can also use it for leeks , which are notorious for trapping dirt in their green and white layers. Just strip the leaves off the herb stems or chop the leeks to separate the layers. Then let them sit in the water so the dirt falls to the bottom and dry them gently before use.

Asparagus season is short, and now that you know how to clean and prep the vegetable and maybe even some herbs to use with the recipe, it's time to dig in.