It’s time to wave those spears and cheer - spring is here and so is Australian Asparagus! As spring approaches we all eagerly await the reappearance of luscious local spears. As we say goodbye to winter we say hello to yummy ways to brighten our day.
Australian Asparagus is much loved for its luscious eating quality. It’s also amazingly versatile. Grilled or pan roasted spears are a delicious way to start the day while boosting our veggie quota.
Asparagus also provides a perfect solution for lightening up our BBQ fare for gatherings of family and friends. Picture delicious spears sizzling on the BBQ, platters of tender just cooked spears and cool salads with crunchy fresh asparagus adding vibrancy.
Asparagus is yummy in:
- Soups, Salads, Omelette, Frittata, Quiche, Tarts, Risotto, Pasta, Pizza, Burgers, Wraps, Bruschetta, Fritters, Sauces, Salsas, Toasted sandwiches, Dips, Pesto, and much, much more!
Asparagus also suits most cooking methods:
- Grill, BBQ, Stir-fry, Microwave, Oven roast, Blanch, Steam, Boil, Pickle
Asparagus is quick and easy to prepare and cook too – simply snap or trim any woody ends and we’re only minutes away from boosting our vegetable intake in the most delicious way.
Take it from Accredited Practising Dietitian Glenn Cardwell who says, “Why take a supplement when asparagus can provide us with essential nutrients like the essential B group vitamins folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and biotin, along with vitamin C?”
- Australian asparagus is available from September to March with most Australian Asparagus produced during spring between September and November.
- A smaller supply of Australian asparagus is also available during the summer months (a number of growers cultivate summer asparagus by setting aside fields of new asparagus ferns ready for ‘summer cut’).
- When Australian asparagus is out of season, or when supplies are limited such as at the beginning and end of the season, asparagus is imported to supplement local supplies and satisfy consumer demand.
- Look for firm, bright smooth spears of uniform size with closed, compact tips.
- When you snap freshly harvested asparagus, it should be crisp, moist and juicy.
- Freshly harvested asparagus is very similar to cut flowers. It needs to be kept in cool, humid conditions.
- One way to keep asparagus fresher for longer is to wrap it in a damp tea towel, pop it in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator.
- Another way is to stand the fresh spears upright in a container with 1cm cold water, cover and store it in the refrigerator.
- Simply snap off any woody ends with your forefinger and thumb. Alternatively, run a knife along the stalk until it meets less resistance, and then cut the end off at this point.
- Asparagus can be served both raw and cooked - try it fresh in salads and salsas as well as in an endless variety of cooked dishes.
From the Growers
Australian Asparagus Council President, James Terry anticipates an excellent season this year.
“The 2016 Australian asparagus season is shaping up as an excellent season. Asparagus crowns require a proper dormancy period, which has occurred during the winter of 2016. All growers are prepared and eagerly waiting for the spring season to begin. Asparagus signifies spring and with each warmer spring day, Australia’s production rapidly increases peaking normally in early to mid October.
The industry is expanding each season, which is a positive for the future. Asparagus takes three years to reach full production and growers invest significant money into the fields each season to make sure that everything is perfectly prepared for the season ahead. We hope everyone enjoys Australian asparagus while in season this spring with a lighter production continuing through summer,” says James.
- More than 95% of Australia’s asparagus is grown in Victoria.
- Most of the Australian asparagus crop (70%) is consumed on the domestic market and 30% of Australian asparagus is exported.
- Asparagus is a perennial vegetable arising from a root system of fleshy rhizomes known as the ‘crown’.
- In spring the asparagus crown sends up shoots (spears), which are the edible portion of the plant.
- Asparagus is the real fast food - in ideal conditions it can grow 1-2cm per hour!
- Growing, harvesting and packing asparagus is extremely labour intensive. Each spear is harvested by hand when just the right length.
- To maximise freshness, harvesting is done daily in the early hours of the morning with packing on the same day.