Table of content A-Z

 

asparagus

 

Botanical name: Asparagus officinalis


Spargel (grün)

 

It is presumed that asparagus originally came from Eastern Europe and Asia. Today it is grown in practically all countries with a temperate or a warm climate.
Within the European Union, France is the top producer of asparagus, followed by Spain, Italy and Germany. Outside of Europe the largest producers are the USA, Taiwan and China, with the latter producing predominantly tinned asparagus.


Availability


Asparagus is in season from April until July.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Asparagus is an herbaceous plant; the parts above ground die off in the autumn. In the following spring, finger-thick young stalks with fine, scale-like protective leaves sprout from the perennial rhizome. Depending on the manner of cultivation, these may be white or green. White asparagus grows under the earth in the dark. It is ready to be harvested when cracks appear on the surface of the soil. If the head is allowed to grow out of the earth it will become violet.

Green asparagus grows with the influence of light, which gives it its colour. Asparagus has an incomparable, typical, slightly bitter characteristic taste. Owing to its chlorophyll content, green asparagus is strongly aromatic; its taste is nutty and more intensive than that of white asparagus.


Ingredients


Asparagus is a vegetable very low in calories and has a diuretic effect. Particularly due to its aspartic acid content, it also has a strong dehydrating effect. 100 g contain:

Asparagus, cooked
Energy (kcal)
16
Water (g)
94
Protein (g)
2
Fat (g)
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
2
Fibre (g)
2
Vitamin C (mg)
10
Vitamin A (RÄ) (µg)
87
Folic acid (µg)
48
Potassium (mg)
114
Sodium (mg)
3
Calcium (mg)
28
Magnesium (mg)
12
Iron (mg)
0,5
Aspartic acid (g)
0,2



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


Fresh asparagus can be identified by its smooth, white, unshriveled cut end. The scales on the head should be closed. If fresh stalks of asparagus are rubbed together they make a squeaky sound, another sign of freshness.

To store asparagus in the refrigerator, wrap it in a moist cloth; it will keep for approximately 2 days. Before freezing, it is advisable to blanch it.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


Before the "queen of vegetables", as it is often called, can be eaten, it must be washed thoroughly and peeled. Begin to peel it just below the head. After peeling, cut off the end. Green asparagus does not need to be peeled.

Now the asparagus must be cooked, for about 15 minutes. An asparagus pot with a sieve insert is ideal: The asparagus cooks standing up and the sensitive tips are safe.

The asparagus can also be tied in a bundle and cooked in a normal pot; this makes it easier to remove it from the pot when it is finished. Green asparagus requires less cooking time.

Asparagus is often eaten with potatoes, boiled ham and melted butter. There are manifold other ways to prepare it, however; asparagus salad, asparagus soup, or asparagus mixed with other vegetables are only several examples. Asparagus is tinned industrially.


Seasoning tip


Parsley, dill, chervil, cress and basil go well with asparagus.


Miscellaneous


# Asparagus has long been considered a medicinal plant, which is reflected by its botanical name "officinalis" (Lat. = medicine).

# In order to simulate freshness, asparagus is sometimes watered. This is the case if water drips from the scales when the head of the stalk is pressed together.

 

 

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