It’s gloriously sunny and according to Frogshole, this is the week we should start to have their wonderful asparagus.
Our regular customers know this asparagus is really special – and a really exciting time as the season isn’t for long.
You may think we’ve had English asparagus for a month or so now,
but there is a world of difference between forced asparagus and locally sourced.
Asparagus is not only delicious but is one of the world’s healthiest foods to eat. Our Frogshole asparagus is not certified organic, but the farm are responsible growers and have organic crops growing close by such as wheat, barley and oats. Frogshole also maintains a diverse habitat and the farm is surrounded by hedgerows, shaws and woods and a stunning water meadow alongside a tributary of the River Beult.
Asparagus needs warm, moist weather to grow so mid to late May sees the bulk of the crop emerge. Frogshole continue to pick until mid June, after which the spears need to be left to grow to sustain the plant for the following year. Then it’s fingers crossed for the winter to have the right balance of cold weather and rain so the crop will survive for the following year – growing asparagus is a risky business and the best crops can take five years to come to fruition.
So it’s worth waiting for – you’ll get sterling tender spears with real sweetness and flavour..which you just can’t find in forced asparagus.
How to store asaparagus
Treat it like flowers or herbs and you’ll keep it fresh and ready for use.
Asparagus can be kept but you must stop it drying out otherwise it will become stringy and tough – so you’ll need to chop more off!
- So, when you receive your asparagus, chop a little off the end – just like you would do a bunch of flowers.
- Keep the band round it and stand it around 5cms of water in a jug. Put a clear plastic bag over the top.
- Keep in the fridge and you can store and keep the freshness for up to around a week. If the water starts to look cloudy, just change it.
How is asparagus good for you?
So, why eat asparagus?
It has health benefits and more so when it’s freshly picked!
Loaded with nutrients – Asparagus is a great source of fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K as well as essential minerals such as chromium which helps regulate blood sugar. Vitamin K is said to help the absorption of calcium and help tackle osteoporosis and also to help blood clot (which also means that anyone taking Warfarin should check whether they should eat asparagus).
- Along with avocado, kale and brussels sprouts, asparagus is a rich source of gluthathione – a detoxifying compound that helps break down harmful free radicals. This is why eating asparagus is suggested to help protect against certain forms of cancer and to slow down the ageing process.
- Asparagus contains healthy levels of folates which are said to help protect against cognitive decline – especially when combined with vitamin B12. Another excellent reason to eat dark, leafy greens such as kale – but also fish, poultry, meat and dairy.
- Folates may also help stop the body forming an excess of homocysteine which can interfere with the production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine – which regular mood, sleep and appetite.
- Asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, which is a natural diuretic. This is said to be beneficial to people who suffer from high blood pressure or oedema to help them rid their body of excess fluid and salts.
- Eating asparagus can also help the digestion and relieve constipation due to the high figure and water content in the spears.
Ways to use asparagus
- To eat with a grain for maximum nutritional benefit, try this delicious pearl barley, asparagus and mushroom risotto.
- Here is a green feast of asparagus, peas, courgettes and spicy jalapenos in this take on a pasta primavera.
- Pasta is a perfect partner so if you prefer something less spicy, combining with smoked salmon and broad beans has a beautiful flavour.
- Asparagus, Horseradish and Parmesan tart is a wonderful trio of flavours. In fact, click the link for even more delicious asparagus recipes in this Guardian post of their ten best.
- Simply cooked is also delicious and here is a wonderful way to bake in the oven.
- Similarly, try griddling with lemon and parmesan for an equally stunning side dish.
- To blanch, simply leave as a bundle or as individuals and drop into a large pan of boiling water. Cover and cook for 3-5 mins, depending on their thickness. Drain and immediately plunge into ice-cold water – or serve immediately.
- If you prefer to steam, just cook for three mins in the steamer – no need to overcook otherwise they become slightly bitter and droopy.
- Instead of using celery in your Bloody Mary, try pickled asparagus as an alternative. Very easy to make and could also with cheese.
- Make the most of lighter foods with a gorgeous beetroot, feta and asparagus salad. Blanched or shaved – local asparagus is delicious raw.