Spring time is asparagus time! But what should you look for when buying asparagus and how can you accurately distinguish fresh spears from old ones? Is broken asparagus of inferior quality and we clarify the question of whether or not asparagus can be frozen
The questions surrounding the purchase of asparagus and its proper storage are numerous and therefore you will receive in this article the most important tips for the purchase of the delicious and healthy pole vegetable.
When should you buy asparagus?
Whether white, green or purple, the asparagus season in Germany begins at the end of March and ends punctually on June 24, St. John’s Day. Within this period you get regional asparagus of the best quality. But why is the asparagus harvest over on June 24 of all days? The reason for this is that the asparagus can still gather enough strength and store it in the roots so that you can harvest it again next year. Therefore, the last shoot of the plant is left to grow. From it develops a small bush with needle-shaped leaves – the actual asparagus plant. To still have enough energy, asparagus needs at least 100 days before the first frost. The delicate stems are popular with florists to incorporate into bouquets.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Freshness is the trump card when buying asparagus
Asparagus should go from the field directly to the plate. This is confirmed by the Leibnitz Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops in Großbeeren near Berlin. There they found that asparagus tastes best when it is no more than a day old. Already on the second day, a clear loss of aromas can be measured and tasted. One possible reason for this is the rapid breakdown of sugar in the sticks, although the exact causes of the loss of flavor remain to be determined. It is therefore best to buy your spears directly from the asparagus farm, where they were pricked the same morning.
Trade classes say nothing about the quality!
Especially in retail stores you will always come across packaged asparagus with promising labels like: Commercial grade Extra I and the like. Although these commercial classes have already been abolished, many retailers continue to print them voluntarily because of their promotional effect.
However, these commercial classes do not reflect the freshness, nor the taste quality of the asparagus. They really only say something about the thickness, length and color of the asparagus.
In addition, the packaging serves another purpose. It covers the ends of the asparagus spears. If these are sunken or dry, it is already old. Therefore, you should always closely examine the lower part of the asparagus spears.
Moist and juicy – This is what fresh asparagus looks like!
If you want to buy fresh asparagus, don’t be fooled by the thickness or color of the spears, but take a close look at the cut ends. If these are slightly moist and juicy, the asparagus is still fresh.
A simple test: gently squeeze the end with two fingers. If it gives a little and a little juice comes out at the cut edge, the asparagus is fresh. The escaping juice should give off a light and not obtrusive odor.
You can recognize particularly fresh asparagus with the so-called squeak test. To do this, rub several asparagus spears together. If you hear a squeaking sound, you are holding fresh sticks in your hands.
Dark & moist – Store purchased asparagus properly
The noble vegetables taste best when they land directly from the field onto the plate. A maximum of one day should elapse between harvest and consumption to obtain maximum flavor. But this is not always possible. If you can’t process your asparagus the same day and want to keep it as fresh as possible, you should wrap it in a damp kitchen towel and store it in the refrigerator. But even so, you should process it after three days at the latest. However, if at all possible, you should always buy it fresh.
Can you freeze asparagus?
Yes, asparagus can be frozen quite easily if you follow some basic things. First, you should wash it before freezing, peel it and divide it into individual portions. Peeling is not required for green and purple varieties. Before you put your asparagus in portions in the freezer, however, you should pat them thoroughly dry. This means that smaller quantities or individual bars can also be removed if required.
Important: Frozen asparagus should not be thawed, but placed directly in boiling water. If the water then begins to boil again, it requires about 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time. The exact duration depends on the thickness of the bars.
Especially suitable for freezing are the peels and leftovers to prepare a delicious cream of asparagus soup later. Frozen asparagus should be processed within 6 months.
Why does my asparagus have blue / purple heads?
Don’t worry, your asparagus isn’t spoiled. If you see poles with dark heads, it is due to contact with sunlight. So the asparagus has poked its head out of the ground. Black and white films that lie over the asparagus fields prevent unwanted coloring of the heads, but primarily serve to regulate the temperature in the bed. Without the protection of the film, so-called anthocyanins color the stems reddish-blue. This process is completely natural and serves as a sunscreen for the plant. The plant pigment is even healthy, as it protects our cells from free radicals. In this country, discolored asparagus heads are often mistakenly considered a quality defect, while in France they are particularly appreciated.
Completely dark colored spears are called purple asparagus. It has a more intense flavor and is usually cheaper than the white variety, as the coloration is often misinterpreted as a quality defect.
Is broken asparagus inferior?
No way! Broken asparagus usually occurs because the stalks were cut too short or broke in the peeling machine or during washing. Since fresh asparagus shoots are quite fragile, a considerable amount of broken asparagus accumulates and is available at a reasonable price.
The curd tastes just as good as the intact sticks. However, before its preparation, you should again carefully inspect the shell. Especially when the sticks broke in the peeling machine, you never know exactly if and where there is still peel residue on the sticks. If the asparagus is already broken during washing, you can not avoid peeling.
Broken asparagus is perfect for those who do not attach too much importance to the visual quality or for those who want to prepare the asparagus as a salad or soup. If you buy cheap, you definitely don’t buy inferior quality here.
Checklist: How to always buy fresh asparagus
- The cut ends should not be brown. If you press them in lightly between your fingers, they should give a little and clear juice should come out with only a slight odor.
- Fresh asparagus is firm and should not bend much. Caution: Risk of breakage!
- The peel of fresh asparagus is easy to score with a fingernail and is not woody.
- If fresh bars are rubbed together, a squeaking sound is heard.
- Discolored heads are not a quality defect.
- Commercial classes do not provide any information about the taste quality.
- For best possible flavor, asparagus must be pricked and eaten on the same day.
- You can get the freshest spears at an asparagus farm near you.