The time of harvest is decisive for whether the asparagus looks green, white or slightly purple. The white, particularly mild-tasting asparagus is so light-colored because it grows in mounds of earth under the ground, protected from the sun. It is stung as soon as the earth’s surface rises slightly and before it is exposed to sunlight. Connoisseurs value violet asparagus for its fine, slightly strong taste. It is stung when it has broken through the surface of the earth a little.
Green asparagus grows without mounds of earth and largely above ground. With the light of the sun, the plant starts photosynthesis and the asparagus turns green. The spears are thinner and the flavor is stronger than white asparagus.
How do you recognize fric asparagus?
Consumers recognize fresh asparagus by the closed tips. The sticks must look plump and shiny and be firm. The ends of the asparagus should not be dried out, discolored brown or hollow. Juice should come out when you press lightly with your thumb. Since some retailers store the asparagus in water, a moist cut surface can also give the impression of freshness. In this case, the following trick will help: rub the rods against each other. If the asparagus squeaks slightly, the goods are fresh.
It is advisable to buy asparagus that comes from the region, it is usually fresher than goods that have been delivered from far away. At many weekly markets and street stalls, asparagus farmers sell their goods that were freshly picked the morning or the day before. Another advantage: the asparagus does not have to be transported over long distances.
What about when buying asparagus to consider?
Asparagus is available from us in three different trading classes: E (Extra), I and II. The classes say nothing about taste and quality, but only divide the vegetables according to the thickness and growth of the individual spears and whether the heads are still tightly closed or are already slightly open. The straighter and thicker the bars, the higher the grade and price. Anyone who chops or purees the vegetables during preparation anyway, for example to prepare a soup, can therefore also buy second or third class goods. The same requirements apply to green asparagus, although the spears may be thinner.
How long is asparagus in season and why is it so expensive?
The asparagus season is short: Depending on the region, it begins in mid-March at the earliest and traditionally ends on June 24th, St. John’s Day. After that, the plant must grow undisturbed in order to gather strength for the next year.
Asparagus cutting is manual work. A machine cannot dig out the poles carefully enough – nor can it estimate where to prick it. Only humans can do that.
Storing asparagus: this is how it stays fresh
Wrapped in a damp cloth, unpeeled asparagus will keep in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for two to three days. Green asparagus is best stored standing in water. However, the vegetables can also be frozen without any problems: it is best to pack the washed and peeled asparagus in portions in freezer bags or cans. After six to eight months at the latest, it should be cooked in boiling water and consumed without being thawed. Asparagus is one of the low-nitrate vegetables and can therefore be reheated after cooking.
What should be considered when peeling asparagus?
Always peel the asparagus from top to bottom, leaving out the head. Use a special asparagus peeler or alternatively a simple peeler. Cut off the ends. You don’t have to throw away the ends of the asparagus and the peel, they can be used to cook an aromatic asparagus soup. Green asparagus often does not have to be peeled at all. If you are unsure, simply try a piece after cutting off the ends and test whether the stick is tender enough. If not, peel only thinly in the lower third.
How long to cook white and green asparagus?
Depending on the thickness, white or purple sticks are boiled in water with a little salt, sugar and butter for 10 to 20 minutes. A little lemon juice ensures that the asparagus stays nice and white.
Green asparagus takes a little less time. Asparagus should not be completely soft, but should be served “al dente” like pasta. The fork test shows when the asparagus is done: simply place a spear on a fork. If it bends slightly without hanging down, the asparagus is at its best. Alternatively, you can test the doneness with the tip of a knife while cooking.
Prepare asparagus gently by steaming
Since asparagus has a high water content, the flavor loses intensity when cooked in salted water. With gentle preparation, such as cooking with steam, more vitamins and trace elements are retained. The asparagus can be steamed either in a pot with a steamer insert or in a special steamer.
An alternative is to prepare it in the oven. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and butter flakes and wrapped in parchment, the peeled sticks are placed in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on their thickness. Asparagus can also be fried or eaten raw.
If asparagus tastes bitter, it was probably pricked too close to the rootstock. Then you should simply cut off the bitter end generously.
Side dishes: What goes with asparagus?
In addition to new potatoes, classic side dishes with asparagus are raw or cooked ham, in Northern Germany cottage ham. Those who like it particularly fine can serve it with steamed salmon, char or a veal escalope. Melted butter or hollandaise sauce works well as a sauce.
Scrambled eggs are suitable for vegetarians, tofu as a side dish for vegans, and smoked tofu tastes particularly good.
Which wine with asparagus?
Because asparagus tastes slightly bitter, fruity wines with strong acidity are not the right companions. Instead, you should choose grape varieties with subtle aromas such as Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Rivaner or Müller-Thurgau. Riesling from the Palatinate, Pinot Gris or Chardonnay harmonize with the stronger green asparagus. If heavy sauces such as hollandaise sauce or chopped eggs are served with the asparagus, the wine should be more sparkling, such as a Riesling from the Mosel. Silvaner or a semi-dry Riesling go well with the vinegar aroma in the asparagus salad.
Is asparagus healthy?
Asparagus is not only delicious, but also very healthy. It contains important minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and phosphorus as well as vitamins C, E and B. At the same time it is – pure and without rich sauces and sauces – a real slimmer: 100 grams of asparagus have only 16 kilocalories.