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questions about asparagusuestions about Asparagus asparagus faq

How long do I boil asparagus?
Trim stem ends slightly and cook fresh asparagus for 5 -8 minutes in boiling water for a crisp and tender result.

Can asparagus be peeled?
Asparagus does not have to be peeled but some people prefer it that way. Use a potato or vegetable peeler to peel the skin from the stalk, especially towards the base.

Can asparagus be eaten raw?
Although most people prefer asparagus cooked in some way, it is perfectly safe to eat asparagus raw. Just rinse it well in warm water to remove any sand and serve cold with a dip.

asparagus faq


How do I pick the best asparagus?
Look for firm, fresh, spears with closed, compact tips and uniform diameter, so that all spears will cook in the same amount of time. Larger diameter spears are more tender.

How long do I cook asparagus in a double boiler or percolator?
To steam asparagus in an upright position, fasten the stalks into a bundle using a band of foil or string. Stand the stalks upright in the double boiler or percolator with the tips extending an inch or more above the boiling, salted water. (A glass cooking vessel works best.) Cover and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

How long should asparagus be stir-fried?
Cut spears diagonally in 1/2 inch pieces, leaving tips whole. Stir-fry pieces in butter or hot oil, in a skillet or wok at medium high heat. Stir constantly until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

How long should asparagus be microwaved?
Fresh Asparagus: Microwave fresh asparagus by placing one pound in a microwavable baking dish or serving bowl. If cooking whole spears, arrange with tips in center. Add about 1/4 cup water and cover tightly. Microwave at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes for spears, 3 to 5 minutes for cuts and tips. Stir or turn halfway through cooking time.
Frozen Asparagus: Microwave frozen asparagus in a covered microwavable baking dish with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes, stirring or rearranging once.
Canned Asparagus: Drain all but 1 tablespoon of liquid, and microwave at 100% power for 2
to 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time.

How should asparagus be stored?
Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold and covered. Trim the stem ends about 1/4 inch and wash in warm water several times. Pat dry and place in moisture-proof wrapping. Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days for best quality. To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water.

How should asparagus be frozen?

Wash asparagus thoroughly. Trim stem ends slightly. Leave spears whole or cut into 2-inch lengths. Blanch in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes ONLY. Cool IMMEDIATELY in ice water. DRAIN WELL and pack in plastic freezer bags or containers leaving no excess air space. Seal, label and freeze at 0 degrees F. Use within eight months for best quality. Do not defrost before cooking.

The blanching process may also be done in the microwave. To do this, place the asparagus in a microwavable dish. Add two tablespoons of water per pound. Cook at full power for 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and still crisp. After blanching, cool immediately in ice water. Drain well and pack in plastic freezer bags or containers, leaving no excess air space. Seal, label and freeze at 0° F. Use within 8 months for best quality. Do not defrost before cooking. If asparagus becomes defrosted, cook immediately. Do not re-freeze.

How do I can asparagus?
Wash and drain asparagus spears. Leave spears whole or cut into pieces. Boil 3 minutes. While hot, place into clean canning jars, leaving 1 inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints, 1 teaspoon salt to quarts, if desired. Cover with boiling water. Adjust caps. Process in steam pressure canner 25 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds of pressure (240° F). Keep canned asparagus on a shelf in as cool and dry a place as possible. Date jars as you prepare them and use the oldest jars first. Use within a year.

How long does asparagus have to grow before it can be cultivated?
Three seasons pass before the asparagus plant can be harvested. In its first season of growth, a crown forms with six inches of root. In the second season, the crown grows into a fern. Asparagus can be harvested in its third year, and reaches its prime after 6-8 years, when it can yield as much as one to two tons per acre when grown commercially.

What vegetables are related to asparagus?
The asparagus plant is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic.

When was asparagus first cultivated?
Asparagus was first cultivated about 2500 years ago in Greece. The name is a Greek word, meaning stalk or shoot. The Greeks believed asparagus was a herbal medicine which, among other things, would cure toothaches and prevent bee stings.
Second century Physician, Galen, described asparagus as "cleansing and healing". Claims for medicinal benefits of asparagus persist to this day. The Romans became great lovers of asparagus, and grew it in high-walled courtyards. In their conquests, they spread it to the Gauls, Germans, Britains and from there, the rest of the world.

What is the growing season for asparagus?
In Michigan, asparagus is harvested for a six - seven week period from late April or early May through mid to late June.

Why does my urine smell funny after consuming asparagus?
Most authorities feel that the compound that causes the odor in urine after consumption of asparagus is methylmercaptan, which is a sulfur-containing derivative of the amino acid, methionine. This is disputed by a few individuals who claim that the odiferous compound is asparagine-amino-succinic-acid monoamide, which is derived from the amino acid, asparagine. In either case, the product is formed as a derivative during the digestion and subsequent breakdown of beneficial amino acids that occur naturally in asparagus.
Ref: Merck Index, 862; Food Chemistry, Belitz and Grosch, pg. 271.

What are the nutritional benefits of asparagus?
A 5.3 ounce serving (approximately 5 spears) has only 20 calories, 0 fat or cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 400 milligrams of potassium, 3 grams of fiber, 60% of the USRDA of folacin, and are excellent sources of thiamin and vitamin B6.

Where does asparagus grow?
Asparagus grows best in sandy, well-drained soil. In Michigan, most of the commercial acreage is on the west-central part of the state around Hart and Shelby in Oceana County, near Lake Michigan. Only the states of California and Washington produce more asparagus than Michigan.

What do I do with the fern growth after I am done harvesting asparagus?
Do not cut it down until the fall when it has turned all brown. The fern is what feeds the crown nutrients so that it will produce spears again in the spring.

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