June is almost around the corner and there are many healthy, delicious things coming to food shops from nearby farms and growers - here's some insight into one green, long tasty veg that is season right now - the asparagus. Of course, before we get to the asparagus - we'll remind you again why it's a good idea to eat the seasons when you can!
There are plenty of good reasons to eat more local, seasonal food. Here’s a few of them to get you inspired about eating seasonally.
To support the local economy
To reduce energy needed to grow and transport the food we eat
To avoid paying a premium for food that has travelled a long way
Most importantly, seasonal food is fresher and tastes better and is more nutritious
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More seasonal blog posts and interesting aspects of nutrition covered later on, watch this space!