Farm Focus: Local asparagus is here!
by Robbie Sigona
Local asparagus is in and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Although we’ve enjoyed asparagus all winter, now is the time you will see prices
really tumble and quality soar. It’s exciting knowing that our true season is starting; the asparagus will naturally be fresher. We know we might say this about a lot of the locally grown produce, but this local asparagus really is the best.
This is because asparagus, just like corn, begins to convert its sugars to starch from the moment it’s picked. So, the sooner you eat it after it’s picked the sweeter and more tender it will be compared to asparagus that has to travel a distance, such as crops from Mexico that travel 3-4 days before reaching our store.
In addition to the short amount of time it travels from field to our store, the weather and soil here make for ideal growing conditions, all of which contribute to sweetness.
The local spears we have in now are coming from Salinas, CA, (it’s gorgeous!) as well as from Victoria Island Farms near Stockton, CA. Victoria Island Farms’ asparagus is known as Delta-grown asparagus – a regional specialty that is world-renowned for its quality. We also have some organic asparagus in from Gonzales, CA.
The Salinas asparagus will be on special at $1.99/lb. and the organic will be $3.99/lb. And yes, I know $3.99/lb. sounds high, but for comparison, most stores are selling organic asparagus for $5.99/lb. Not only does it cost more, it’s probably not local.
One of the telltale signs of fresh asparagus is its squeak. Yep, perfectly fresh asparagus squeaks a bit when lightly squeezed, not unlike the way a good artichoke squeaks when squeezed. You can learn more about how to select asparagus here in my produce tips box.
I love the really thick spears just boiled slightly…you really don’t want to over cook them! They’re also great grilled and BBQ’d after they’re rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper, they’re delicious. Asparagus is also a sweet addition to omelets and frittatas. It is also great cold in salads or stir fries mixed with a little red bell pepper. The color contrast is fantastic!
Asparagus offers a rich supply of vitamins A and C, iron, and zinc, plus fiber. And asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable.
It’s hard to miss on asparagus now. I just caution not to over cook them and enjoy the season.