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more about Asparagus....

Sunday, 15 Oct, 2017

Asparagus originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and was a favourite of the Greeks and Romans who used it as a medicine.

In parts of Europe, Turkey, Africa, Middle East and Asia, varieties of asparagus grow wild.

In some countries people prefer to eat white asparagus (it stays white because it is grown covered in soil), but New Zealanders like it green and there is little, if any, white asparagus grown here. Purple asparagus is increasingly available in New Zealand.

What to look for

Choose straight firm green stems. Insist on fresh, clean product with trimmed ends and a minimum of white butt. Fresh asparagus is 'squeaky' -when the spears are gently rubbed they squeak; old asparagus is rubbery and doesn't squeak.

Availability

September, October, November, December.

Note: supplies are sometimes available earlier or later depending on the season.

Store

Keep asparagus refrigerated with butt ends either wrapped in wet paper towels, stand up in a jar with 1-2 cm of water (like flowers in a vase), or alternatively wash, then refrigerate in plastic bags.

How to prepare

Snap or slice off tough ends. These ends can used to flavour soups or stocks. Cooked asparagus should be tender but slightly crisp. For maximum flavour, don't overcook. Asparagus for use in salads is generally blanched, however, if the asparagus is thin and fresh it can be used raw.
Purple asparagus is often eaten raw as it is sweeter and more tender than green. To retain the purple colour, add a little lemon juice or vinegar when cooking and cook for a very short time using a method such as stir frying.

Ways to eat

Lightly steam, stir fry, microwave, boil, bake or barbecue asparagus. Serve asparagus with hollandaise or aioli, or use in soups, quiches, pies, salads, stir fries, or eat with fresh bread.

Cooking Methods

Boil, braise, char grill/barbecue, microwave, roast, steam, stir fry.

Nutrition

Asparagus is one of the highest vegetable sources of folate and is also a source of riboflavin, vitamin C plus contains a dietary significant amount of potassium. Asparagus contains a range of phytonutrients, particularly from the phenolic and carotenoid groups.

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