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Asparagus

Asparagus 

Nutrition

Asparagus is stocked full of nutrients making it a great choice for today’s health-conscious consumer.

Asparagus is:

  • Low in calories; just 20 calories per serving (8 medium spears)
  • Fat and cholesterol free
  • An excellent source of folacin
  • A leading source of glutathione
  • A good source of protein
  • A significant source of thiamin and vitamin B6
  • One of the richest sources of rutin, a nutrient which strengthens capillary walls of our circulatory system.

Varieties

The majority of the production is green asparagus. The Viking and Centennial varieties are the two main varieties grown. White asparagus accounts for only 3 acres of production.

 

New hybrid varieties developed at the University of Guelph, as well as New Jersey are beginning to replace these traditional types of asparagus.

 

Availability

Asparagus is available in May and June.

Buying & Storing

  • Choose carefully when buying fresh asparagus.
  • Look for bright green stalks with tightly closed, compact tips.
  • Stalks should be straight, firm and about 6 to 9 inches in length.
  • Try to avoid asparagus with white butts because the white portion is unusable.
  • Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold, and covered; to maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem end, or stand upright in two inches of cold water .
  • Trim the stem end about ¼ inch or snap the end off with your hands and wash in cold water several times.
  • Pat dry and place in moisture proof wrapping.
  • Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days for best quality.

Tips & Suggestions

Preparation

Cook asparagus by steaming, boiling, microwaving, oven-roasting, or stir frying.

 

  • To Steam: Lay asparagus in steamer basket and place over boiling water in saucepan. Cover and steam 5 to 7 minutes until asparagus is tender-crisp.
  • To Microwave: Place 1 lb. washed asparagus spears in microwave-safe dish. Add 2 tbsp. water. Cover. Cook at HIGH for 4 to 6 minutes, rearranging spears once so bottom spears are moved to top until tender crisp. Keep covered until ready to serve.
  • To Boil: Bring water to boil in a skillet or saucepan. Carefully add asparagus to pan and continue to boil uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • To Oven-roast: Arrange 1 or 2 lbs. of asparagus spears in a single layer in a large shallow baking dish. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tbsp. vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 500 deg. F. (260 C.) for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but still slightly firm. Use the same method on the BBQ using a piece of aluminum foil to cover the grates.
  • To Stir-fry: Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces and cook in skillet or wok, using 1 to 2 tbsp. of butter or oil, for 5 to 7 minutes.

 

Freezing

  • Wash asparagus thoroughly.
  • Trim stem ends slightly.
  • Leave spears whole or cut into 2 inch lengths.
  • Blanch in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes ONLY.
  • Cool IMMEDIATELY in ice water.
  • DRAIN WELL and pack in plastic freezer bags or containers leaving no excess air space.
  • Seal, label and freeze at 0°F / -18°C.
  • Use within eight months for best quality.
  • Do not defrost before cooking.

Source: Reprinted with permission courtesy of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association at www.learnlivelovelocal.ca. Contact the Ontario Produce Marketing Association for more information at 416-259-7827 or visit www.learnlivelovelocal.ca.

 

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