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Produce & Recipes
Produce & Recipes
is a long-lived perennial that is grown all over the U.S. but does best
in places with sandy soils and where the ground freezes in the winter to
a depth of one or two inches.
The first vegetable to pop
out of the ground in the spring, asparagus will grow as much as one inch
an hour when conditions are right. 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.
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a
good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and
Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium.
Unlike most vegetables, where
the smaller and thinner are the more tender, thick asparagus stalks have
more tender volume to the proportion of skin. When asparagus have been
too long in the market, the cut ends will have dried and gone slightly
Asparagus is one of few foods
which is considered acceptable to eat with the hands in polite company,
although this is more common in Europe.
Fresh: Keep fresh asparagus
clean, cold and covered. Trim the stem end about 1/4 inch and wash in
warm water several times. Pat dry and place in moisture-proof wrapping.
Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days for best quality. To maintain
freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand
upright in two inches of cold water.
Freezing: Wash thoroughly. Trim stem
end slightly. Leave spears whole or cut in 2" lengths. Sort according to
stalk thickness; small, medium and large. Blanch in boiling water.
The blanching process may
also be done in the microwave. To do this, place the asparagus in a
microwavable dish. Add two Tablespoons of water per pound. Cook at full
power for 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and still crisp. After
blanching, submerge immediately in ice water. Drain well and pack in
plastic freezer bags or containers, leaving no excess air space. Seal,
label and freeze at 0ˇ F. Use within 8 months for best quality. Do not
defrost before cooking. If asparagus becomes defrosted, cook
immediately. Do not re-freeze.
Canning: Wash and drain asparagus
spears. Leave spears whole or cut into pieces. Boil 3 minutes. While
hot, place into canning jars, leaving 1 inch head space. Add 1/2
teaspoon salt to pints, 1 teaspoon salt to quarts, if desired. Cover
with boiling water. Adjust caps. Process in steam pressure canner 25
minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds of pressure (240ˇ
F). Keep canned asparagus on a shelf in as cool and dry a place as
possible. Date jars as you prepare them and use the oldest jars first.
Use within a year.
Trim the stalks before using.
To trim asparagus, cut
or snap off the tough ends and discard. If desired, peel the bottom
third or half of each stalk with a vegetable peeler for a more tender
scrape asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler, stroking away from
the head, and refresh them in ice-cold water before steaming them;
the peel is often added back to the cooking water and removed only
after the asparagus is done, this is supposed to prevent diluting
In their simplest
form, the shoots are boiled or steamed until tender
and served with a light sauce like hollandaise or
melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil with a
dusting of Parmesan cheese. A refinement is to tie
the shoots into sheaves and stand them so that the
lower part of the stalks are boiled, while the more
tender heads are steamed. Tall cylindrical asparagus
cooking pots have liners with handles and perforated
bases to make this process foolproof.
full-sized stalks can be made into asparagus soup.
Cantonese restaurants in the United States often
serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or
beef. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over
charcoal or hardwood embers, for an infusion of
Back to produce
with Gremolata Butter
Do not be afraid …
gremolata is simply a garnish of finely chopped parsley, lemon peel and
1 1/2-2 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1-2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling
salted water until just crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with
cold water and drain again. Pat dry and set aside.
Melt butter in large sauté pan or skillet
over medium-high heat. Add lemon peel and garlic and stir 30 seconds.
Add asparagus and toss to coat; sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté until
asparagus is heated through and coated with sauce, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to flat serving plate. Sprinkle
with parsley and serve.
Prep Tips: The asparagus can be
cooked and chilled one day ahead. This recipe also works well with
grilled or roasted asparagus and other cooked vegetables like zucchini
Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oriental sesame oil
1 1/2-2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2-2 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut
into 2-inch diagonal pieces
4 tsp sesame seeds
Stir soy sauce and sugar in small bowl
until sugar dissolves. Heat oil in large sauté pan or skillet. Add
garlic and stir for 15 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry until
crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add soy mixture and toss until asparagus
is coated, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.