It’s time to shake off the winter blues and welcome the spring sunshine. Loving the spring sunshine is what we have in common with the asparagus plant! The fleshy root system of the plant (know as crown) lies dormant beneath the soil during winter.
As the weather warms up the asparagus crown reawakens and sends up spears once again. Did you know that each spear is harvested by hand when just the right length? To maximise freshness, harvesting is done daily in the early hours of the morning with packing on the same day.
The freshly harvested spears are transported to the packing shed where they are washed and graded. The spears are then bunched or packed loose into boxes and shipped off to markets and supermarkets.
When selecting asparagus look for firm, bright smooth, spears of uniform size with closed, compact tips. When you snap freshly harvested asparagus, it should be crisp, moist and juicy. When storing asparagus remember it is very similar to cut flowers. It needs to be kept in cool, humid conditions. One way to keep asparagus fresher for longer is to wrap it in a damp tea towel, pop it in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator. Another way is to stand the fresh spears upright in a container with 1cm cold water, cover and store it in the refrigerator.
Asparagus is quick and easy to prepare. Simply snap off the woody ends from each spear using your forefinger and thumb. Snap the asparagus as close to the woody end as possible to minimise wastage. Alternatively, run a knife along the stalk until it meets less resistance, and then cut the end off at this point. Asparagus is yummy eaten fresh in salads and snacks. It also suits most cooking methods including blanching, microwaving, steaming, roasting and stir-frying. Click here to find out more.
Asparagus is also amazingly versatile. It’s yummy in soups, salads, frittata, tarts, risotto, pasta, pizza, burgers, fritters, wraps, toasted sandwiches, dips, pesto and much, much more! You’ll find plenty of delicious recipe ideas and tips in our FREE e-cookbook such as those pictured below: Pesto Asparagus Roll-Ups, Asparagus and Green Pea Soup with Cashews, Spiced Coconut Chicken with Asparagus, and Lamb and Asparagus Skewers. Click here to download our FREE eCookbook including these recipes.
To top it all off, asparagus is packed with nutrients to help keep us healthy. Take it from Accredited Practising Dietitian Glenn Cardwell who says, “Why take a supplement when asparagus can provide us with essential nutrients like the essential B group vitamins folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and biotin, along with vitamin C?” Click here to see the Spearheading Health with Asparagus Report by Glenn Cardwell.
We hope everyone enjoys Australian Asparagus this season!