British asparagus are only in season for a very short time (this year from April 23rd to June 21st). Delicious and versatile, asparagus can make the simplest of meal (blanched and drizzled with oil) or an elaborate dish paired with mushrooms, cheese or other ingredients.
Green asparagus are the most common in the UK, but did you know that asparagus also come in white and purple? White asparagus are grown underground without sunlight while purple asparagus are so tender they can be eaten raw.
How to Buy
Asparagus wrinkle as they age so make sure you choose asparagus that have a smooth skin, a uniform colour and perky tips.
Contrary to popular belief, thicker asparagus are as good and tender than thinner ones. They just need to be cooked slightly longer. Asparagus grow from “crowns” planted in the ground that have a lifespan of 15 years. Young crowns will produce thinner spears than older ones resulting in asparagus being available in different sizes.
How to Store
Asparagus are best kept in the fridge where they will last 3-4 days. They will keep fresh better if they are damp, so keep them upright in a container with the ends submerged in a bit of water. You can also wrap asparagus ends in a damp kitchen towel. Whichever method you choose, make sure you cover up the asparagus bunch in plastic.
Best Way To Prepare Asparagus: Trimming
Asparagus tips are very soft when cooked while the other end can be quite chewy. For this reason it is best to trim asparagus before cooking them (unless you are making asparagus soup and include the whole spear).
To trim asparagus, just bend each spear until the tougher end snaps off. It is also important not to overcook asparagus and this is why some recipes recommend for cooked asparagus to be immediately rinse in cold water once cooked so that to prevent overcooking them.
6 Ways To Cook Asparagus
+ Blanch Them: plunge asparagus in boiling water until just cooked (this take 3-5mins depending on their size).
+ Steam Them: place asparagus in a steam basket over boiling water until just cooked (this take 5-8mins depending on their size).
+ Roast Them: roasting works best with medium / thicker asparagus (as thinner ones tend to get chewy). Just place trimmed asparagus drizzled with oil and seasoning on a roasting tray and cook for 8-10 mins in an oven preheated at 200°C/ 400°F/Gas 6.
+ Grill Them: grilling also works best with medium / thicker asparagus. Just place trimmed asparagus drizzled with oil and seasoning under the grill for 5-10 mins.
+ Fry Them: simply pan-fry or stir-fry trimmed asparagus in oil. Cover and shake frequently.
+ Soup: asparagus soup is delicious and light. You can cook together spears of all sizes and shapes.
Great Paired With
+ Cheese (parmesan, feta, cheddar, blue cheese etc…)