What to do with Asparagus

    Asparagus nutrition facts

    Asparagus is a young tender stem vegetable, erupting from its underground root-system. Its flvorful spears were well recognized since ancient Greeks and Romans as a prized delicacy. One of the oldest recorded vegetables, it thought to have originated along the coastal regions of eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions.

    Botanically, it is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Asparagaceae family. It is closely related to Liliaceaeplants which also include onion, garlic, tulip, daffodil…etc. Scientific name: A. officinalis. This spear vegetable is now-a-days grown as a major commercial crop in China, Europe, Peru, Australia, and USA.

    Asparagus crowns are planted by early spring. It grows into tall branched stems, bearing fine fern-like green needles (phylloclades); giving the whole plant an overall feathery appearance. Fresh crop can also be established by direct seeding or through transplanting 10-12 week-old seedlings. A fully-grown plant reaches about 5 feet in height. Young scaly edible spears emerge from the underground extensive matted root systems, which can be ready for harvesting by early spring.

    In general, 7 to 9 inches tall young shoots are harvested by either snapping or using a paring knife, cutting close to the ground level. There is no need to cut asparagus shoots far below the soil with a knife. This may injure other erupting buds on the crown. The stump that is left in the soil after snapping dries up and disintegrates. Warm weather would result in opening up of spear tip prematurely which may reduce their overall flavor and quality. Asparagus is normally harvested once a year for over 8 to 10 week period in a season.

    White or blanched asparagus (spargel) spears are obtained by covering surrounding soil around the erupting shoots, depriving them of sunlight. This method, like in endive, makes the shoots turn pale through inhibition of photosynthesis. Oftentimes, its blanched spears are preferred in Europe due to their pleasant taste and delicate flavor.

    Choose Other Vegetables