When the winter turns to spring, we all get a bit excited about the fresh produce to come! Asparagus is one of the first plants you will see popping up out of the soil. The harvest begins in early April, and can extend through June.
While you are probably accustomed to seeing green asparagus at the market, you can also find asparagus in purple and white. Popular green varieties include Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight and Jersey King, while the most popular purple variety is Purple Passion.
What about the white you ask? White asparagus can actually come from any variety, as long as it is not exposed to sunlight! The lack of sunlight prevents the plant from producing chlorophyll, which is responsible for the plant’s color. Something you might not know unless you grow asparagus is that the plant can be male or female. Male plants are preferred because they have a higher production each season. In 2019, the United States produced over 84 million pounds of asparagus!
Now the question we have all been thinking about: Why does asparagus make our pee smell funny? Asparagus contains a unique component called asparagusic acid. When digested, this acid gets broken down into sulfur compounds, producing the smell. There is a great science debate on whether or not everyone produces this odor. For people that don’t notice a difference in smell, it is hypothesized that their nose is simply unable to smell it, but no conclusion has been reached. Despite the smell, asparagus is a great, nutritious food to add to your diet. Asparagus is full of fiber, antioxidants, and trace minerals, all needed for a healthy body.
Asparagus is a perennial crop, meaning it pops up year after year. However, don’t expect to eat any the first year of planting. It can take 2-3 years for asparagus to reach maturity and be harvested for the full season. But once it is ready to harvest, why not celebrate? Each year, asparagus is celebrated in California at the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival. A little closer to home is Oceana county in Michigan, which is the asparagus capital of the nation. Right here in Ohio, we can celebrate the crop by buying it fresh from our local farmers!
To maximize freshness, store asparagus in the refrigerator with the ends in about 1 inch of water or in the crisper with the ends wrapped in a wet paper towel.
Need some ideas on how to add asparagus to your quarantine cooking? Check out the recipes below!
Garlic Asparagus Pasta (Countryside Original Recipe)
Makes 4 servings
3 cups Asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
2 cups Spinach
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 lb Fresh Pasta, cooked
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 cup Gouda Cheese, shredded
- In a skillet, heat oil and garlic for about 2 minutes.
- Add asparagus to skillet and cook until tender and crispy, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add spinach and cheese. Cook until spinach wilts and cheese melts, about 1 minute. (For cheese lovers, add an additional 1/4 cup of gouda!)
- Spoon mixture over hot pasta.
- Top with basil and enjoy!
Spring Salad (Countryside Original Recipe)
- 1 bunch Asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
- 6 Radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 cups Spinach
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
- Feat Cheese
- Chia Seeds
- Combine all dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
- Chop asparagus, radishes, and spinach and put them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add in any desired additional ingredients such as cheese, nuts, seeds, beans, or meat to the bowl.
- Pour your dressing over top, mix, and ENJOY!
Simple Roasted Asparagus
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese
*measurements of each are left up to the cook and his/her personal preferences!
- Toss asparagus in oil & salt.
- Roast at 400 for about 25-30 minutes until crispy and tender.
- Top with pepper or parmesan cheese. Enjoy!