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Today, I want to talk about the often misunderstood and unliked asparagus.
My goal with this article is to help you decide whether or not to try asparagus and to explain how to cost-effectively buy, store, and freeze asparagus if you do.
What is asparagus?
Asparagus is a perennial garden vegetable.
It is presently classified in its own vegetable family but used to be part of the lily family.
There are over 300 varieties of asparagus but not all are safe to consume.
Some are cultivated for eating like the garden asparagus but several species are grown as ornamental plants.
What does asparagus taste like?
The taste of asparagus is one of the hardest vegetables to describe but I’ll give it a shot.
The taste is best described as a distinct, strong, assertive taste with some bitter undertones.
However, fresh asparagus can have a milder taste.
Many people say asparagus taste like broccoli, green beans, or artichokes.
It is my humble opinion that asparagus does not taste much like green beans.
I love green beans and only eat broccoli prepared in very specific dishes.
To me, asparagus tastes a lot more like broccoli than green beans.
I think broccoli and asparagus have a grassy taste to them, which I consider an acquired taste.
Do asparagus make your urine smell?
Yes, asparagus can make your urine smell. But don’t worry, it won’t last!
Asparagus contains an ingredient called mercaptan that causes a distinct odor in your urine.
Where is asparagus grown?
Asparagus originated in eastern Mediterranean countries.
Used by Hippocrates in ancient Greece and wild varieties have been discovered in Africa.
Today, asparagus is cultivated in many parts of the world.
Top producers of asparagus include China, Peru, Mexico, Germany, and Thailand.
When is asparagus available?
Fresh asparagus is available year-round internationally.
But spring is the best time for this vegetable.
It is harvested from February to June in the U.S.
If you can’t find fresh asparagus in the stores you can also find canned asparagus but fresh is definitely better!
How is asparagus harvested?
You harvest spears in the early spring when the stalks reach 6″ to 9″ tall.
Harvest in the mornings or evenings.
Harvest by snapping the spear at the soil level. Cutting with a knife is not recommended.
What does asparagus look like?
The primary color of asparagus sold in the U.S. is green.
But, asparagus can also be white or purple.
Asparagus is sold in pencil-sized bundled stalks generally 6″ to 8″ tall, with a petal-shaped head called a bud.
Sometimes, you can find asparagus sprues in the stores.
When growing asparagus, they need to be “thinned out”.
The young, very pliable asparagus stalks are called sprues and are a favorite among asparagus lovers.
What is the texture of asparagus?
The texture of asparagus can be crispy and crunchy or soggy, depending on how it is prepared.
Where can I buy asparagus?
You can buy fresh asparagus year-round in most grocery stores but is most abundant and freshest in the springtime.
It can be found in local farmers’ markets when in season during the early spring.
How do I select and buy asparagus?
You should always choose firm, crisp stalks that are round and not twisted.
Look for ones with moist and plump ends. Avoid the ones that look dry and woody.
How do I store asparagus?
According to site Harvest To Table, you can store fresh asparagus at about 36 degrees for up to 10 days.
TIP: To ensure your asparagus are stored at the proper temperature, invest in an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer.
Wrap the spears in a moist cloth and place them in perforated plastic bags like these. They should be stored in the vegetable crisper section.
You could also place spears in a mason jar of water and place a plastic storage bag loosely over the jar.
Because you have no idea how fresh store-bought asparagus are, you should plan on using them within 2 days of purchasing to ensure they don’t go bad.
Can i freeze asparagus?
Yes, you can freeze asparagus.
To freeze, blanch them for 3 to 5 minutes in boiling water.
Immediately after blanching, dunk them in cold water.
Wrap and freeze for up to several months.
How long do asparagus last?
Properly stored, fresh asparagus will up to 10 days.
Properly frozen, fresh asparagus will last up to several months.
What are the health benefits of asparagus?
Asparagus is low in calories and packed full of nutrients including folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Asparagus is also a good source of fiber and trace minerals including chromium.
According to the USDA’s National Nutrient, Database, a one-cup serving of asparagus contains the following nutrients:
- 27 calories
- 2.95 grams of protein
- 5 grams carbohydrates
- 2.81 grams of fiber
- 2.52 grams of sugar
- .16 grams fat
How is asparagus consumed?
Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked.
How is asparagus cooked?
Asparagus can be sauteed, boiled, steamed, grilled, blanched, or broiled.
They can also be oven-roasted or pan-roasted.
What foods go well with asparagus?
Hollandaise sauce is the classic accompaniment for asparagus.
However, because asparagus is similar to mushrooms in the fact that they absorb the flavors of things they are cooked with, they are very versatile.
Some other foods that go well with asparagus are bacon, chicken, fish, lamb, and ham.
Asparagus also goes well with rice and pasta.
They go well with dishes with seasoned with vinegar, lemon, and garlic.
Related informational guides:
Final thoughts on asparagus
Nutrient-wise, asparagus is a powerhouse!
While it is not the cheapest vegetable on the market, it is worth every penny nutrient wise.
If you love the woodsy, grassy, earthy undertones in many vegetables, you will likely love asparagus.
However, if you aren’t a fan of vegetables like broccoli and artichokes, you may not be a fan of this springtime treat.
In that case, when you try asparagus for the first time, I would find a recipe where you love all the other ingredients. A casserole, perhaps?
Remember, asparagus can become sour and bitter if they are overcooked but can be eaten raw. When cooking, be sure to err on the side of undercooking them rather than overcooking.
If you’re an asparagus fan, I’d love to know your favorite cooking tips and tricks. And if you’re a newbie and decide to give asparagus a go, let me know what you think!
Please email them to me. I would love to hear from you!
Until next time…