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Asparagus “Now Available”

FACTS                                                                                                 Asparagus

• Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.

• Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.

• Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.

• After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.

• A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.

• The larger the diameter, the better the quality!

• Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. It is also Fat Free, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium.

COOKING & HANDLING TIPS

• Saucepan or Steamer: Cook fresh asparagus in a small amount of boiling water until tender. Fresh asparagus will be crisp-tender in 5 to 8 minutes.

• Frying Pan: Place a strip of folded aluminum on the bottom and up the sides of the pan, extending over the edges. Bring water to a boil; add asparagus spears and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Use foil strips to gently lift the spears to a serving dish.

• Stir-Fry: Cut spears diagonally in 1/2 inch pieces, leaving tips whole. Stir-fry pieces in butter or hot oil, in a skillet or wok at medium high heat. Stir constantly until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

• Microwave: Microwave fresh asparagus by placing one pound in a microwavable dish. If cooking whole spears, arrange with tips in center. Add about 1/4 cup water and cover tightly. Microwave at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes for spears, 3 to 5 minutes for cuts and tips. Stir or turn halfway through cooking time.

STORAGE TIPS                               Asparagus2

• Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold and covered. Trim the stem end about 1/4 inch and wash in warm water several times. Pat dry and place in moisture-proof wrapping. Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days for best quality. To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water.

• You can also freeze asparagus so you can enjoy them all winter long. Wash them thoroughly. Trim stem end slightly. Leave spears whole or cut in 2″ lengths. Sort according to stalk thickness; small, medium and large. Blanch in boiling water according to the following directions:

The blanching process may also be done in the microwave. To do this, place the asparagus in a microwavable dish. Add two Tablespoons of water per pound. Cook at full power for 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and still crisp. After blanching, submerge immediately in ice water. Drain well and pack in plastic freezer bags or containers, leaving no excess air space. Seal, label and freeze at 0° F. Use within 8 months for best quality. Do not defrost before cooking. If asparagus becomes defrosted, cook immediately. Do not re-freeze.

• If you would like to keep your asparagus longer canning would be your best choice.Wash and drain asparagus spears. Leave spears whole or cut into pieces. Boil 3 minutes. While hot, place into canning jars, leaving 1 inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints, 1 teaspoon salt to quarts, if desired. Cover with boiling water. Adjust caps. Process in steam pressure canner 25 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds of pressure (240° F). Keep canned asparagus on a shelf in as cool and dry a place as possible. Date jars as you prepare them and use the oldest jars first. Use within a year.