Asparagus

August 13, 2016

 

Nutrition Factoids

 

Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies in significant amounts for a healthy diet.

 

Asparagus is a good source of potassium, fiber and vitaminsA, B6 and C.

Asparagus has no fat, no cholesterol and is low in sodium.

 

Asparagus is the leading supplier among vegetables of folic acid. A 5.3 ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Folic acid has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, that cause paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year.

Peak Harvest Season: Spring (Although available year around in most grocery stores imported from various areas in US and other countries)

For many people in the US, asparagus will soon be sprouting it’s lush, green tips up through the previous winter ground. One of the most anticipated tastes of this season is the first bite of tender, grassy asparagus.

Even before we realized that asparagus was a culinary treat, people in ancient times used it medicinally. The Greeks used it to treat bee stings and toothaches; Chinese herbalists treated arthritis with dried asparagus-root tea (possibly since its high level of asparagusic acid is a diuretic and can ease swelling).

Thick or thin, asparagus makes an array of tasty dishes using a variety of cooking methods. Asparagus is delicious steamed, roasted or grill. It can then be served hot, warm or chilled. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a patch in your backyard, grab a bunch from your local farmers’ market and celebrate spring’s fresh flavor.

 

General Information

Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.

Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.

Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.

Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.

The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking…early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.

After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.

A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.

 

The larger the diameter, the better the quality, and the better they work on the grill.

 

Shopping

Look for sturdy spears with tight heads; the cut ends should not look dried out, wrinkled or woody. Fresh asparagus should snap when bent

Storage of Fresh Product

 

 

Trim the ends of spears and stand them upright in about an inch of water, cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Or wrap the ends with damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.

Recipe of the Month: Southwestern Asparagus and Red Pepper Roll Ups

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