Asparagus

As a perennial vegetable, asparagus takes up to 3 years once planted to grow to harvest, but once it does grow, a single seed can yield a crop for 10 years!

For centuries it was a luxury item for the elite, favoured for its distinct flavour. It’s real origins are unknown, though it may have original grown wild in the sandy soil of northern Europe and Britain.

Ontario grows green asparagus, specifically the Viking and Centennial varieties, though there are other varieties of white and purple asparagus in-store as well.

White asparagus is milder than green, and is grown underground. It is a more popular variety of asparagus in Europe, though can usually be found canned in Canada.

Purple asparagus, originally from Italy, is less fibrous and sweeter than green or white asparagus.

One 1/2 cup of cooked asparagus contains folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. Folic acid especially helps prevent birth defects, cervical cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and heart disease.

Asparagus also contains no fat or cholesterol, and is low in sodium.

Look for straight, crisp spears with tightly closed, green or purple tips.

Look for freshness rather than size. Older asparagus is starchier, meaning it have less flavour and a woody texture. Older asparagus will have ridges in the stems and a dull green colour.

Trim the ends and stand asparagus upright in a jar with 1 inch of water. Cover the tops with a plastic bag.

Asparagus can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.

Boiled asparagus can be frozen for 1 year. Boil, shock in cold water, drain, dry, and package in freezer bags.

Wash the asparagus with cold water before cooking.

Snap off  the tough ends.

Asparagus can be boiled, steamed, roasted, microwaved, and stir-fried!

Whatever method you’re using to cook it, asparagus needs to be cooked quickly.

Seasonal Availability
May to June

Nutrition per 6 asparagus spears (90 g), fresh or frozen, boiled:

Nutrient Value
Calories 18
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrates 3 g
Total Sugar 1 g
Total Dietary Fibre 1.6 g
Calcium 18 mg
Iron 0.7 mg
Sodium 8 mg
Potassium 178 mg
Magnesium 11 mg
Vitamin C 14 mg

Provided by Health Canada