A delicacy of the vegetable world, it has a short growing season and is only available April – June. Asparagus requires the soil in which it grows to be weed free and well drained, which means that water doesn’t run through the soil too quickly nor too fast, and there is no puddling of water. Interestingly it cannot be harvested the first year it is grown, or at least only a very few spears can be, and the same for the second year too. This is to allow the crop to strengthen and after the first two years the crop will be ready for harvesting, and will be ready year after year without having to be replanted.
This could go some way to explaining why it is considered such a luxury, and its price tag seeming expensive compared to other vegetables. It takes time for the crop to grow, and for farmers it will take 2 years before a full crop can be harvested!
They are simple to cook; steam or boil (preferably steam) for all of 3 minutes. Their ends can be woody and unpleasant to chew so don’t worry if you leave these to one side or chop them off prior to cooking. They are a delicacy eaten as they are, sometimes feature on breakfast plates alongside a hollandaise sauce - very delicious – or with pasta dishes or fillets of chicken and fish.
Asparagus is a source of folate and vitamin C, and it will retain even more of these water-soluble vitamins if it is steamed rather than boiled - because the vitamins are not lost to the water.
Asparagus fun fact: their plants are either male or female, and the male varieties produce more spears therefore are favoured over the female varieties.
Recipe tip: a delicious vegetarian starter or light breakfast of Asparagus, Lemon and Poached Egg.