Blossoms, lambs and spring flowers are all signs that spring is here and warmer weather is on its way. It’s also fantastic news for food lovers, as a plethora of delicious fruit and vegetables are about to hit the veggie aisle, starting with Kiwis’ favourite delicacy, asparagus.
Whether you make it into a roll, serve it with your favourite meat and salad or add it to your favourite pasta or stir fry, Kiwis’ can’t get enough of the first season asparagus.
LeaderBrand’s Asparagus Grower Mike Arnold says that the farm in Chertsey in the South Island has had incredibly warm weather which asparagus thrives in.
“It’s looking like we’re in for a bumper crop. The spears are nice and green and growing quickly as the temperature continues to heat-up. We have been out hand picking the first spears at the beginning of October and they are fresh in store every day,” he says.
LeaderBrand has been growing asparagus for more than eight years in the South Island. They have asparagus plots in Lincoln which have been harvested for more than 15 years and Chertsey for about five years. It takes three years of growth from first planting the crown to when the first harvest can be picked.
“We start to harvest first thing in the morning and the spears are taken straight to the pack house to be chilled. This takes the field heat out of the spears and locks in the freshness.
“We love our asparagus as fresh as possible. Ideally you’ll eat it the night you bring it home from the store but if you do need to store a bunch, then either throw it into the veggie bin of the fridge wrapped in moist handy towels or standing up in a jar with water (similar to flowers in a vase),” Mike recommends.
Asparagus is a great source of dietary fibre and folate, including vitamins such as niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins B6, C and K, and potassium.
“The best way to eat asparagus is to snap off the bottom of the spear where it breaks naturally. To ensure you don’t cook out all the nutrients, the spears only need to be slightly heated. You can either boil, blanch, steam, microwave or my favourite is on the BBQ.
“I like to heat the spears in a pan with olive oil for five minutes, just slightly warm and served with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. They are perfect on their own but also make a lovely addition to any meal,” says Mike.
Mike does warn that the asparagus season is short so make sure you grab a bunch of asparagus today, once the season starts, they don’t hang around for long.
LeaderBrand’s asparagus bunches are available from now until Christmas with peak season throughout October and November.
Try our delicious Asparagus recipes;