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Ingredient of the Week, February 12: Asparagus

Posted by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM
  • 23 Replies

 

                                  

Asparagus has a long history going back as far as the first century. We have records of it growing in ancient Greece and Rome. Egyptians over 2,000 years ago cultivated asparagus
for medicinal reasons and legend has it that it was so revered they offered it up to gods in their rituals.

It was surely first discovered growing wild ....


A wild asparagus has thin shoots thinner than a pencil and is much different than the asparagus that you find In your grocery counter. Through selective breeding and growing techniques the
they developed a thicker stem with more edible flesh.

It was first cultivated in gardens in ancient Rome some as far back as the first century AD.
of the varieties produced such big shoots that they were 3 to the pound!

The Name:
The Ancient Greeks and Romans used a Persian word "asparag" which meant
shoot. the term sperage became popular for many years and in the 16th century
we find the term "sparagus" used in English speaking countries. the peasants
would call it " sparrow grass". During the 19th century Asparagus took over about
the same time that cultivation of asparagus started in the United States.

How long does it take Asparagus to grow?

Asparagus is planted in the ground three years before it can be harvested for the full season. First comes the seed then comes the plant. Farmers only harvest for short period of time the first few years to allow for further growth. The mature plant is harvested all season which typically stretches up to 90 days. Asparagus will grow sometimes 6 to 7 inches in one day!

An Asparagus plant will generally produce from 8 to 12 years depending on different factors.

White Asparagus

Is it true white asparagus comes from the same plant as green asparagus?

Yes, that is true. When the spears emerge from the ground, the sunlight turns the stalks green. To get white asparagus, about 6 inches of dirt is piled on top of the plants so that the stalks can grow underground. They will grow at the same rate as an uncovered stalk.
When the tip breaks the soil surface, the worker probes under ground with his special knife to cut the stalk. This stalk is all white.

                        


How to buy asparagus: Whether asparagus are thin or thick, choose them with firm, crisp stalks and compact, brightly colored heads with no trace of rust or softness. Selecting similarly sized specimen will help ensure even cooking. Avoid yellowish asparagus with soft stalks that are beginning to flower, which are a sign of age..

How to cook asparagus: Cut each spear approximately in half. Reserve the woody stems for another use, such as soup, or discard them. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a full rolling boil. Drop in the asparagus spears or bundles, let the water return to a boil, and cook uncovered to the desired doneness. Timing can be vague and will depend on the thickness of stalks. Ideally, the best method is to test the doneness by fishing out a spear, cut, and bite it to determine if it is ready. Avoid overcooking asparagus, as this causes it to lose flavor, color and nutrients. When boiling asparagus spears in large quantities, tie them in bundles to make it easier to remove them boiling water when cooked. Steaming is a good cooking method, and there are special tall, narrow asparagus steamers on the market in which the asparagus stand upright in an inner basket. This method cooks the asparagus more evenly, as the more fibrous bottoms are thoroughly cooked in the boiling water while the fragile tips are lightly steamed. asparagus is ready when the stalks are tender but still firm. As soon as asparagus is cooked, plunge it immediately into cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain when cold. Serve hot or cold.
Asparagus can also be cooked in a microwave oven . Avoid cooking it in iron pots, as this vegetablesetable contains tannins which react on contact with iron, altering the color of the asparagus.

Nutrition of asparagus: asparagus is an excellent source of folic acid and contains vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin A, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. asparagus contains asparagine, an acid substance that gives the vegetablesetable its characteristic flavor and is also a diuretic.

Storing asparagus: asparagus is very perishable. Wrapped in a damp cloth and placed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, it will keep for a maximum of 3 days. Blanched asparagus will keep for up to 9 months in the freezer.

 

         

Does your family like asparagus? How do you cook it?


 

by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM
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Replies (1-10):
goddess99
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Never had it.

delanna6two
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:08 PM

I have a 1 can on the shelf now that was given to me....I have never tried it.

Iconoclast
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM
1 mom liked this

Holy cannelloni, we got asparagus in our Bountiful Basket just last week and I need some info on it (good thing you guys are on point).  We usually blanch it or roast with garlic and parmesan.  You don't really have to cut the asparagus unless it is very thick most of the time if you bend it, it will break where you need to clip the ends.  Also if you aren't ready to use it right away place the stalks, standing up, in a cup of water.  Remove the top rubber band (if there is a band around the neck of the asparagus) my hubby told me that is the main reason for it to wilt and die.  We got our aparagus a week ago and it looks great, probably going to have it tonight.

KaylaMillar
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM
1 mom liked this
We love it but don't really buy it because it's so expensive here
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Iconoclast
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM


Quoting KaylaMillar:

We love it but don't really buy it because it's so expensive here


I know this is going to sound like a sales pitch, but it is not.  Do you have a Bountiful Baskets in your area?  A coworker turned me on to it and it is amazing.  It is a fruit and veggie co-op (all volunteer).  Every week you get the opportunity to make a contribution to get a basket.  I'm in Idaho and the contribution is $15 dollars (I think that is standard) and the basket is half veggies half fruit fresh grown.  I can post pics if you like of the baskets I have gotten (I take pics to show my hubby because he is at work during pick up)

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

SlightlyPerfect
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Yes! I just bought some!

For tonight, I decided to make the crab cakes and pair them with roasted garlic-parmesan asparagus.

slightlyperfect

SlightlyPerfect
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM

OMG! The other day when I bought some, I read the sign wrong. I thought it was $2.99 per bunch... but it was per pound! I nearly had a heart attack at the register.

Quoting KaylaMillar:

We love it but don't really buy it because it's so expensive here


slightlyperfect

SweetLuci
by Luci on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM

 I have something similar where I live in Florida. It's called Front Porch Pickin's. I get a delivery every week of local farm fresh vegetables and fruits. For 3 people, it's $20. They send me an e-mail telling me what's in my basket and if there's something I don't want, they substitute. We love it.

Quoting Iconoclast:

 

Quoting KaylaMillar:

We love it but don't really buy it because it's so expensive here


I know this is going to sound like a sales pitch, but it is not.  Do you have a Bountiful Baskets in your area?  A coworker turned me on to it and it is amazing.  It is a fruit and veggie co-op (all volunteer).  Every week you get the opportunity to make a contribution to get a basket.  I'm in Idaho and the contribution is $15 dollars (I think that is standard) and the basket is half veggies half fruit fresh grown.  I can post pics if you like of the baskets I have gotten (I take pics to show my hubby because he is at work during pick up)

 

SweetLuci
by Luci on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:40 PM

 The price changes a lot here, and I only buy it when it's in season, plentiful and less expensive.

Quoting SlightlyPerfect:

OMG! The other day when I bought some, I read the sign wrong. I thought it was $2.99 per bunch... but it was per pound! I nearly had a heart attack at the register.

Quoting KaylaMillar:

We love it but don't really buy it because it's so expensive here


 

KamsOne
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 7:05 PM

 I've tried them twice and ewwww.  I just don't like them.

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