Further Food Tips From Our Garden Guru, Peter

Peter Arnold is a wonderful gardener we have met at the Community Garden. He has offered to send us food tips each fortnight which may be useful in your kitchen.

 "Over the years since I turned to a vegan diet some 15 years' ago I have built up knowledge of ways to get the most out of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Hopefully by reading these tips you might find some of them useful and apply them." - Peter

Read it online or download each of the files below.

PETER HAS NOW COMPLETED THE ALPHABET IN VEGETABLE IDEAS  

AND NOW, IN MAY 2016 BEGINS AGAIN WITH "A"  FOR ASPARAGUS.


A is for Asparagus

Asparagus (scientific name Asparague officinalis), is a herbaceous, perennial plant belonging in the genus

Asparagus. Traditionally, asparagus is a spring crop however in recent years due to imports asparagus is often available for much of the year.

Asparagus has for thousands of years been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. Asparagus is also highly nutritious with a range of B group vitamins, vitamin C and significant levels of vitamin K and folate. Moreover asparagus is low in calories with about 20 calories per 100 grams.

By most accounts asparagus dates from the Middle East from where it spread to central and western Europe. It appeared on Egyptian carvings as far back as 5,000 years’ ago. Asparagus derived its name from the ancient Greeks, who used the word to refer to all tender shoots picked and savoured while very young. Asparagus cultivation began more than 2,000 years’ ago in the eastern Mediterranean region.  Greeks and Romans prized asparagus for its unique flavour, texture and alleged medicinal qualities. They ate it fresh when in season and dried it for use in winter.

During the rule of the King Louis XIV of France in the 1600s, asparagus gained in popularity and was reserved to the tables or the courts. He loved asparagus so much he had hothouses built so he could enjoy it all year round.

Stinky Wee

Asparagusic acid, which is naturally present in asparagus is broken down by the body into a family of chemicals rich in sulphur. These volatile chemicals are found in the fresh urine of some people shortly after they eat asparagus – not all people have smelly urine (or can’t smell it) after eating asparagus but many do.

Popularity in Europe

White asparagus is considered a delicacy and is very popular in many European countries in particular in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. Asparagus has a short growing season and is usually only available from late April through to June.

In Germany many cities hold an annual ‘Spargelfest’ (asparagus festival) celebrating the harvest of white asparagus. Schwetzingen claims to be the ‘Asparagus Capital of the World’ (not the only city to make same claim) and at its festival an Asparagus Queen is crowned. During the asparagus season that traditionally finishes on 24 June, roadside stands and open-air markets sell about half of Germany’s white asparagus consumed during the year.

 

Growing and Harvesting Asparagus

Asparagus is a difficult crop to grow as it’s vulnerable to frost, heat, hail and wind which can misshape or damage the shoots. The harvesting and packing of asparagus is a labour intensive process. Furthermore asparagus is highly perishable – it continues to develop after harvest, so cool chain management is essential.   

In spring the crown sends up shoots or spears - the edible portion of the plant. Only the young shoots are eaten as once the shoots ‘fern out’ the shoots quickly turn woody. Asparagus spears emerge through soil continuously throughout the season. When the season begins spears may only need to be cut every third or fourth day, but as the season progresses and temperatures rise spears may be harvested daily. At the peek of the growing season, in ideal warm and humid conditions, single spears of asparagus can grow over 2 cm in one hour!

White Asparagus

To produce white asparagus, the shoots are earthed up i.e. are covered with soil as they grow without exposure to sunlight, as such photosynthesis does not take place resulting in the shoot remaining white in colour. As white asparagus is rarely grown in Australia it’s not commonly available fresh.

Preparing and Cooking Asparagus

Asparagus is easy to prepare and cook but can be easily over cooked. It should be cooked for no more than three to five minutes – depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Asparagus should retain some firmness and its green colour.

When preparing asparagus the bottom of the spears which are woody should be removed and the asparagus should be washed or rinsed in cold water.

My preferred method of cooking is steaming though a number of cooking methods can be used - asparagus can sautéed, blanched, baked and microwaved (where it is effectively steamed). For those who are too lazy to cook asparagus doesn’t have to be cooked - the spears can be eaten raw.

 

References;

http://www.asparagus.com.au/index.php/home/

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/04/12/3189034.htm



Ċ
Marian Morris,
May 9, 2016, 4:15 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Jun 2, 2014, 5:31 AM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 2, 2014, 2:03 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
May 22, 2014, 3:34 AM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 2, 2014, 2:09 AM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Jun 28, 2014, 1:23 AM
ĉ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 1, 2014, 1:20 AM
ĉ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 1, 2014, 1:20 AM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 14, 2014, 6:15 PM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Sep 14, 2014, 6:23 PM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 7, 2014, 4:38 PM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 7, 2014, 4:38 PM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 17, 2014, 10:27 PM
Ċ
Quakers Hill Uniting Church,
Jan 15, 2015, 1:10 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Jan 15, 2015, 1:22 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Apr 26, 2015, 6:53 PM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Apr 26, 2015, 6:53 PM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Apr 26, 2015, 6:49 PM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 18, 2015, 1:24 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Nov 18, 2015, 1:55 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 18, 2015, 2:18 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Feb 21, 2016, 3:07 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Apr 10, 2016, 11:39 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Nov 18, 2015, 2:24 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Feb 21, 2016, 3:07 AM
ĉ
Marian Morris,
Feb 21, 2016, 3:07 AM
Ċ
Marian Morris,
Apr 10, 2016, 11:20 AM
Comments