Asparagus

Asparagus

General Information:  Asparagus is a member of the lily family. It is native to Eurasia, and was a delicacy to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The varieties available in the Swiss markets are of various colors and origins. The green varieties arrive first, usually from Spain or Italy (early product from Mexico and California are usually quite ‘woody’ and bitter). Wild varieties will show up next, and usually come from Italy. The white asparagus in Switzerland comes from France (Alsace, Argenteuil, or Cavillon), Germany (Freiberg/Rhineland), and Austria (Donau). Swiss white asparagus is becoming more prominent at the market, but they remain expensive and not as refined. Swiss green varieties are good, but expensive.

Season: The optimal time to purchase green and wild asparagus varieties is from late March to mid-June. White asparagus is best purchased from late April to the end of May.

Purchasing Tips: All varieties should have tight tips and smooth-skins. The cut-end should look recent and not too dried. Over ripe asparagus will have heads that start to spread, and they will taste bitter. Avoid asparagus with overly woody bases or those that are cracked or appear dried-out.

Storage Tips: Best cooked the same day purchased. Fresh asparagus will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Stand them upright in about one inch of water.

Cooking Tips: All asparagus should be first washed well. Remove the outer layer with a vegetable peeler on thicker versions. Slice or break off the woody bottom area. Asparagus can be steamed, simmered or fried. Grilling slightly blanched asparagus is excellent for late Spring enjoyment.

Nutritional Info: Good amounts of vitamin A, and moderate amounts of B and C. Good source of iron.

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