Produce Spotlight on Asparagus
Asparagus is a member of the lily family, along with onions and garlic. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood and strong bones.
Shopping for Asparagus
Look for asparagus stalks that are firm with tightly closed tips. Color can be bright green, creamy white, or even purple. Stalks with the same thickness will cook in the same amount of time. Thin spears are more delicate and tender than thicker spears, which have a strong flavor and texture. Find locally grown fresh asparagus from May to June in Massachusetts. Asparagus is also found in the grocery store canned and frozen.
Green – the most common type.
White – covered with soil as it grows to keep green pigments from developing. Considered a delicacy and may cost more than green variety.
Purple – has more sugar and less fiber than green asparagus. The skin is burgundy or purple, but the flesh is pale green to creamy white. Cooking may cause more green to show. Less commonly available and may cost more than green.
Storage and Preparation
- Refrigerate fresh asparagus for up to 5 days. Stand stalks in 1 inch of water like a flower bouquet and cover with a plastic bag. Or you can wrap the cut ends of the asparagus in a damp paper towel and cover the towel with plastic wrap.
- Wash under cool running water just before using. Remove tough ends. Gently bend the tough end until it snaps off. Or cut off and discard the bottom end of the stalks.
- Asparagus cooks quickly. Cook it until just barely tender. Thicker stalks take longer to cook than thin ones. Overcooked asparagus may become bitter and stringy.
- Sauté or stir-fry in a small amount of vegetable or olive oil.
- Roast or grill until lightly browned.
- Asparagus can be steamed, blanched, or boiled.
1 pound =
12 to 15 spears, 9 to 10 inches long and ½ inch thick =
3 cups trimmed =
2½ cups cooked
Serving size: 5 spears; Calories: 20; Carbohydrates: 4 g; Fiber: 2 g; Fat: 0 g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Sodium: 0 mg
Using Locally Grown Produce
For recipes featuring fruits and vegetables, visit our website https://extension.umass.edu/nutrition/recipes/. To locate places to buy local produce, visit https//:www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-grownand-fresher.