When is the British Asparagus Season?
That is the question. Because asparagus is a naturally grown crop, growing in the notoriously fickle British climate, the time at which it makes its first appearance each year is always a subject for much speculation. Asparagus growers generally say that the season lasts from 24th April to 21st June – but don’t hold us to it!
Where can I buy asparagus?
All major food retailers sell asparagus during the British season so just pop to your local high street and pick up a bundle. Alternatively it should be available in your greengrocer (but do check it’s British) or you can visit a farmshop, pick your own or mail order, click to find out more.
Why does each spear of asparagus look different?
Asparagus spears differ in size and weight because they’re hand grown and individually cut.
How can I tell when my asparagus is cooked?
Easy! Dependent on the size of your asparagus, cooking times can vary between 3-6 minutes. Simply test if cooked by testing if the tips are tender with the point of a knife or skewer.
What should I look for when choosing my asparagus?
Look for firm, green spears with tight, crisp tips.
How should I prepare asparagus?
As asparagus is grown in sandy soil, always wash well to remove any grit before cooking. Trim any white ends or peel with a vegetable peeler.
How should I store my asparagus?
You can keep asparagus fresh by placing it in the salad drawer of the fridge. It should always be stored in the dark.
How many spears make a meal?
Allow 8-10 medium size spears per person for a starter or 4-6 as a side dish.
Is it true that asparagus is a member of the lily family?
Yes – you’re right on the money there – say no more!
Is asparagus some kind of ‘new’ veg?
Strictly speaking... No! Asparagus can be traced back to Romans times (1st Century AD) making it rather an ‘old favourite’ we’d say!
Is asparagus an aphrodisiac?
Give it a go and see! We think it is a bit of a goer ourselves... as indeed did Shayk al Nefzawi, a notorious writer of erotic works in the 16th Century. He claimed a daily dish of asparagus, first boiled, then fried in fat with egg yolks and condiments, has ‘great erotic effects.’ Don’t ever say we don’t give you useless trivia! Chuck away the cutlery and eat it with your fingers, things could get messy, you have been warned!
Why does asparagus make your wee smell funny?
About half the population experience strange smelling (and sometimes green!) urine after eating asparagus – this is due to sulphur-containing amino acids in the veg that break down during digestion. Different people form different amounts of these compounds after eating asparagus, and many people cannot smell the odour even when they produce the compounds.
Why’s it a super veg then?
Hmmm... maybe because it’s... super?! Alright... it’s full of vitamins A, B and C, virtually fat-free, and full of fibre and folic acid. It’s great for the heart, boosts your immune system and cancer defences, great for skin, nails and hair and is really just an all round nice bloke! Buy it, eat it... need we say more?!. For more information on the health benefits of asparagus see the health section.
Is it good for indigestion?
Yes. It’s known as a natural remedy to help relieve indigestion and has also been recommended as a mild sedative.
What’s with all the colours?
Asparagus comes in green, purple, white... or somewhere in-between. The white variety (grown by our European neighbours) is grown in the dark to stop any colour developing. The vast majority of British asparagus is green.
What other veg are in season at the same time?
Artichokes, aubergines, broad beans, carrots, courgettes, fennel, mange tout, new potatoes, peas, radishes, rocket, sorrel, spinach, spring onions and watercress. Now repeat that back without looking...!
I’ve heard asparagus can live for ages?
You’re right. Asparagus grows from ‘crowns’ planted in the ground It takes each crown three years to produce harvestable asparagus. An asparagus crown has an active life of around 15 years (rather like most of us!). However, the oldest plant recorded reached a staggering 120 years (rather unlike most of us!).
Why is asparagus perceived to be expensive?
Asparagus is actually quite difficult to grow and time intensive too. It has to be planted for three years before it yields any spears and it all has to be cut by hand – no machine is precise enough to select just the spears that are ready to be cut. So when you consider that you’re buying a lovingly tended, bunch of British gastronomia, around £1.49 per bundle doesn’t actually seem that expensive at all does it?
Why don’t we export any of our asparagus if it’s so great?
A great question, with a great answer! It’s so great we eat it all ourselves leaving none for anyone else!