NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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The Taste of Spring

AsparagusMom never arrives empty-handed when she comes to visit.  She always brings a gift of something homemade or homegrown.  Last weekend she brought both!  A loaf of her famous, delicious homemade whole wheat bread, and a bundle of fresh-picked, home-grown asparagus!   Thanks, Mom!

Asparagus is my favorite spring vegetable.  Young asparagus shoots (spears) have a fine texture and a unique flavor.  Being high in water content, low in calories, very low in sodium, a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and a very good source of fiber, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, several B-vitamins including folate (folic acid) and several minerals including iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, asparagus is an extremely nutritious vegetable. 

Enjoying asparagus can be as simple as washing it, trimming it, and eating it raw or tossing it into a fresh salad.  Recipes for preparing asparagus are readily available as it is very versatile and lends itself to cooking methods such as steaming, stir-frying, and grilling, and it can be used as an ingredient in in soup or stew. 

When purchasing asparagus at a grocery store, select asparagus with firm, crisp stalks.  Asparagus tips should be full, tightly closed, and free of discoloration.  The bundle should have a fresh, pleasant aroma, and the cut end of each spear should appear well-hydrated.  Avoid buying the bundle if the spear tips are discolored, soft or slimy, if it has an unpleasant odor, or if the cut ends of the asparagus appear to be dry or cracked.  Young stalks will be thinner and more tender than older, thicker stalks which often tend to be woody.  However, the outer layer of thick stalks can be removed or peeled away to get rid of the woodiness.   

Fresh asparagus is very perishable. Even if properly refrigerated, it will only maintain high quality for about three to four days.  One way to prepare asparagus to be stored in a refrigerator is to trim off about one inch at the bottom of the spears, then wrap them in a damp cloth or paper towel and stand the spears upright in a glass with a couple of inches of water in the bottom, with a loose plastic bag over the spear tips.  Another way is to refrigerate the spears after placing them in a clean plastic bag that is not airtight.   If the bag is airtight, it will trap moisture and cause the asparagus to become soggy.

Adapted from www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension/news/extended-to-you/2015-extended-to-you-columns/spring-time-is-time-for-asparagus

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