These basic steps ensure your asparagus is prepped and ready for whatever way you prefer to serve it.
When selecting asparagus, choose stalks with tightly closed dry tips that are firm to the touch and bright green in color. Store asparagus in the refrigerator wrapped in paper towels inside a plastic bag. Use asparagus within 3–4 days of buying.
Young asparagus is thin and doesn't require much preparation prior to cooking, but it is a good idea to snap off the tough, woody ends. Simply hold a spear at the bottom and in the middle and bend it. The stem will snap right where it turns tough.
Large, thick spears are more mature and tend to be woodier around the stem and base. This doesn't mean they're bad, they just need more attention. So, beginning halfway down the stem, peel off the outer skin to remove the stringy fibers (this also helps "even out" the stem so it cooks at the same rate as the tip). Then snap off the woody end just as you do younger spears.