It’s asparagus season, people. While you can find asparagus outside these few months, it won’t be nearly as tasty— after it’s picked, the sugars start to turn to starch, which makes the stalks woody and bland.

Since the time between harvest and hitting your table affects flavor so much, you should ideally buy asparagus at farmer’s markets or local farm stands If you buy from a store, check the label to see where it came from and opt for the bunches that have traveled the least. Pick stalks that are firm and have tightly closed buds at the top. Here are some ways to cook asparagus to enjoy their bright, fresh flavor:

If you’re grilling, searing, or broiling them, use stalks that are thicker since they’ll stand up to the heat better. Thin asparagus is better for stir fry, eating cold, or raw. You should cut the ends off rather than snap them since they aren’t likely to break at the same point in each stalk.