Not every wild meal has to come from game or fish. Spring is a time of plenty in the woods, be it mushrooms, fiddle head ferns, ramps, or, another personal favorite, wild asparagus. Wild asparagus isn’t really wild; it was introduced to the country hundreds of years ago and has sort of just spread on its own.
Is there asparagus where you live? Chances are good there is. This USDA map allows you to zoom in and see if the tasty plant has been discovered in your area. If it has, look for it along overgrown field edges, old homesteads, and abandoned farms. Keep a close eye out as you hunt an area in the fall, the tall plants and red berries are an easy giveaway to mark a good spot to recheck the following April and May when the young shoots are at their prime.
To harvest, grab the pencil sized and larger shoots near their base and either bend to snap or slice cleanly through with a sharp knife. Keep a close watch in the area over the next several weeks, asparagus grows at an amazing rate and you can harvest the same area multiple times. As the season progresses, leave a few stalks to grow and seed, so that you are ensured a crop in the same area next spring.
We have an asparagus patch along a field edge at one of our turkey hunting spots. It isn’t large, but it is dependable. As my daughter and I passed the area on our way home from a mid-week afternoon hunt, I took a detour to check it out. Sure enough, there was a handful of young tender shoots just waiting to be picked.
My favorite way to prepare asparagus? A light drizzle of olive oil and a quick turn on a hot grill over charcoal and wood coals. Finish with a pinch of sea salt. Any way you like domestic asparagus will work though; steaming, roasting, boiling or even stir fry.
4-6 ounces of asparagus stalks per person
Sea salt or kosher salt
Give the asparagus a thorough rinse under cold water to make sure it is free of any critters that might have hitched a ride. If the stalks are longer than a foot or so, cut them into six-inch lengths.
Coat stalks with olive oil and place on hot grill. I like a mixture of lump charcoal and hickory or apple wood. Roll the stalks every few minutes to grill evenly. A total of 6-8 minutes on a hot grill is usually sufficient.
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