May 24th Is Asparagus DayMay 6th, 2012 by Craig Mullins
Spring is in full force and the summer months are on their way – time to enjoy some asparagus! May 24th is Asparagus, a perfect day to get out your favorite asparagus recipes.
Asparagus is great for you, containing folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin; it’s also low in sodium, and contains no cholesterol or fat.
- Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
- Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.
- Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.
- 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.
- After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
- An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.
- A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
- The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
Selecting the perfect asparagus for your cooking needs is easy to do when you know what to look for. The California Asparagus Commission has some helpful hints to help you in your quest for the best asparagus:
- Fresh California Asparagus is most readily available between the months of March and June of each calendar year.
- A one pound bunch of asparagus (a total of 12-15 spears) typically serves 2-4 people. The number of servings depends on the size/diameter of the spears and whether they will be served as a side dish or main course.
- When selecting a bunch of asparagus, look for long, blemish-fresh, bright green spears with closed, compact tips.
- Select bunches with similar sized spears. Spears of a similar size or diameter will cook at the same rate.
- Select the size asparagus which best suits your preparation method. California growers offer a range of sizes that fit every application, from standard (5/16 inch) to jumbo (13/16 inch). The jumbo spears are just as tender as the thin ones. Tenderness relates to color, the greener (whiter for white asparagus) the better. Thicker spears are ideal for barbecuing on the grill or roasting in the oven. Thinner spears can be cut on bias and added to stir fry or a frittata.
Now that’s you know how to shop for asparagus, it’s time to get cooking!
2 bunches asparagus, washed
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place asparagus in a large plastic bag. Drizzle half the olive oil over the asparagus, seal the bag and shake until asparagus is coated evenly with the olive oil. If necessary, add only enough of the remaining olive oil to coat the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender or crunchy depending upon your preference, about 12 to 20 minutes.
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 bunch fresh asparagus
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and asparagus spears; cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until asparagus is tender. If you like your asparagus well done, reduce heat and cook an additional 10 minutes.
HAPPY ASPARAGUS DAY!!