Seasonal produce vol. 1 – Asparagus



Asparagus season is short but sweet. In England, asparagus is a naturally grown crop, growing in the notoriously fickle British climate the time at which it makes its first appearance each year is always a subject for speculation. Asparagus growers generally agree that the season lasts from the end of April to late mid June.

Asparagus deteriorates relatively quickly after picking, which seasonal, locally grown asparagus is the tastiest.

History

According to records, cultivation of asparagus began in Greece about 2500 years ago. The Greeks believed that asparagus possessed medicinal properties and it was recommended as a cure for toothaches. In England, asparagus has been grown since the 1500’s and it caught on in North America and China during the 1800’s.

Nutritional values

Asparagus is a source of fibre, vitamins A and C as well as potassium and folic acid. 100g of asparagus contains almost your all of your recommended daily intake of folic acid. Asparagus also contains calcium and protein. It’s rich in antioxidants as well.

100g of asparagus contains only 29 calories. Of this, only 2g is carbohydrate, 2.9g is protein and fat constitutes only 0.6g.

Tips

Buying

When buying asparagus, look for firm but tender stalks with good green colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not essentially more tender than the bulkier ones.

Storing

Once picked, asparagus quickly loses flavour and tenderness so it’s really worth eating it on the day of purchase. If that’s not possible, store it in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bottom of the stalks and you can get away with storing it for a couple of days.

Preparing

When preparing, wash in cold water and remove the bottom end of the stalks, when they’re fresh, to bottom end will snap off easily. Steam or boil quickly, around 4 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Time depends on the thickness of the asparagus. If you’re steaming, try to set the asparagus in to the steamer so that the stalk bottoms are at the bottom and the tips pointing upwards.

Lunch BXD recipe ideas

Try serving with boiled eggs as a healthy brunch. We also use them as an accompaniment for our spelt risotto with creme fraiche. My favourite recipe at the moment is using steamed asparagus as a starter, dressed in a little olive oil, honey and lemon and garnished with toasted hazelnuts. It would work great with a beurre noisette too (butter heated in a pan until biscuity in colour and flavour) if you wanted to indulged a little.

This article was written by Taru at ArcticNut for Lunch BXD.

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