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Celebrate Asparagus

Get it while it’s in season

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Celebrate Asparagus

Nothing compares to the taste and freshness of springtime asparagus. It's nutritious and tasty, and lends itself to a variety of recipes.

Although asparagus is available all year through imports, nothing compares to the taste and freshness of fresh, seasonal asparagus. If you live near a farmers’ market or an asparagus grower, treat yourself to one of the best vegetables nature has to offer—healthy, nutritious, and tasty!

Let’s talk nutrition

Asparagus is a vegetable that contains so many vitamins and nutrients your body needs, it should be on every table every day.

It is low in calories (only 22 calories per 100 g), high in fibre (2 g of dietary fibre per 100 g of asparagus), packed with vitamin K (100 g will give you 63 percent of your daily requirement), and has the added benefit of being low in sodium.

But it doesn’t stop there—it is a rich source of vitamin A, the B vitamins, and vitamin C. Asparagus is also a leading provider of folate among all vegetables.

Last but not least, asparagus is an excellent source of numerous health-promoting antioxidants, including phenolics and flavonoids.

How to prepare and cook

Asparagus is made up of a tender part near the tip and a woody part at the end. Bend the asparagus and it will naturally break where the two meet.

Cooking methods for asparagus are a matter of preference, but not overcooking it is essential. Try these two techniques at least once to determine your preferred method.

Steaming
Lay the asparagus in an opened basket steamer (the asparagus can be piled one on top of each other). Season with salt, place the steamer in a skillet or saucepan, pour in about 1 in (2.5 cm) of boiling water, and cover and steam for 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

Boiling
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the asparagus. Boil for 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

With either cooking method, check doneness by inserting a knife in one asparagus spear. It should not meet with resistance. Using tongs, remove the asparagus and serve, or plunge it into a bowl filled with ice-cold water to stop the cooking process if the asparagus is to be used in a recipe.

To freeze, cut off the last inch of the woody part and blanch the stems to make soup (see Cream of Asparagus Soup with Shrimp recipe). Blanch asparagus by boiling for 1 to 2 minutes and plunge into a bowl of ice-cold water. This will preserve its colour. Place it in a freezer bag, remove the air, and store it in the coldest part of the freezer. Frozen asparagus will keep for three months.

Recipes

How to choose

Whether you like green or white asparagus, make sure the stems and ends do not show any sign of dryness and that the tips are tightly closed. Thick or thin is only a preference—freshness is the key to getting the best

How to store

Think of the asparagus as a flower and treat it as such. To maintain freshness at home, pour about an inch of water in a glass container, add the asparagus standing up, and place in the fridge. Asparagus is best eaten within two to three days of purchase.

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