Asparagus or sparrow grass as its folk name is, become one of the most popular vegetables amongst those who put stock in what they eat, how their food affects the environment. The plant originates from western shores of Europe and it’s been known for its taste in the ancient times.
The vegetable came to the US rather late, in 1850s. It retains the most of its flavor and qualities while it’s still young and that’s when it’s harvested and used the most. Once the buds start to open they turn to wood.
- Eating asparagus before drinking alcohol can protect your liver
- Asparagus was used as a medicine in ancient Egypt.
- Peru is the source of most of the world’s asparagus but as much as 99 percent of it exported
asparagus Buying Guide
It’s the tips of an asparagus that contain most of the flavor and that’s the part to be careful about. You want the tips to firm and green. They should also be tightly closed if the asparagus is still in its prime.
You should also choose the asparagus based on how you plan to use it. Thin and tender spears are better if they are sautéed and steamed. Fatter ones need to be boiled first in order to achieve the same effect and make them soft.
It’s also best to buy them in season for both the price and the quality.
asparagus Production & Farming in Texas
Production in Texas
It’s not quite clear where the asparagus originates from since it’s been around forever. Now, it’s mostly produced in Peru that exports it to the rest of the world. However, there’s still some production in Texas because the climate in the cooler areas of North and West Texas is suited to it.
It’s a long term proposition because one plant of asparagus can yield produce for 15 or 20 years before you need to think about replanting. A 100 square feet bed of asparagus can yield as much as 8 to 10 pounds if it’s treated well.
The hybrid asparagus cultivars ‘Martha Washington’, ‘UC 157’, ‘Jersey Giant’, and ‘Mary Washington’ produce better than the standard cultivars. Male asparagus cultivars such as Jersey types (‘Jersey Giant’, ‘Jersey Knight’, and ‘Jersey Supreme’) are more productive and resist disease better than the female cultivars (‘Washington’ types).
The main problem for farmers is that you can’t harvest asparagus for the first 2 years after it has been planted so it’s a long term investment to make and a long time to wait for a return. It is worth it however, since it’s mostly sold to restaurants and high end markets.
On average farmers spray asparagus with 19 different pesticides and most of them don’t linger on the plant too long after it has been harvested and washed.
It’s safe to assume that asparagus originated somewhere where there’s a maritime habitat, because it thrives in the soil that’s too saline for most other plants. US and Germany are the largest importers of asparagus, while the biggest producers are Peru and China.
In the US, Texas isn’t the biggest player in the asparagus market – those are California, Michigan, and Washington. For years now there’s an increase in the use tunnels to grow the plant artificially since that’s what makes the harvest season longer and more productive.
There are several celebrations and festivals dedicated to the harvest and production of asparagus in the US and abroad.
Asparagus is sold prepacked. It can come in a bunch or it can be sold loose. They are placed horizontally in wooden or a cardboard box and between each stem there’s a foam rubber or other more “green” cushion material. Wooden boxes are used more often in the US because they are biodegradable.
The key is to arrange the asparagus vertically so to avoid the apex bending in transport and during the packaging process itself. It also allows the customer to access the length of the asparagus at a glance.
- When you’re roasting asparagus you should preheat the oven at 400 degrees and place it on a large baking sheet. Add some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes.
- It should be sautéed in a large skillet over medium heat and with a thin level of olive oil. It should be cooked until it’s tender and that’s in about 7 minutes.
- Blanched asparagus needs to be chopped and put in a large pot of salted water. When it’s done you should place it in a bowl of ice cold water and let it cool of.
- Asparagus is rich in folate, also known as vitamin B-9. This nutrient plays an essential role in cell development.
- Folate is an essential nutrient, and it is especially important at times of rapid growth, such as during gestation, infancy, and adolescence.
- Taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy appears to help prevent pregnancy loss and protect the growing fetus from neural tube abnormalities.
- One cup of asparagus weighing 134 grams (g) can provide around 17% of an adult’s daily requirement of folate.
It has unique lignans, norlignans, oxylipins, and phenolic aids in this vegetable. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, copper, selenium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B3, potassium, choline, vitamin A, zinc, iron, protein, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. Additionally, it is a good source of magnesium and calcium.
When Are Asparagus in Season in Texas?
To find out when Asparagus are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.