Asparagus has been enjoyed for over 200 years. Its unique flavor and shape and its diuretic properties has made it useful as both a food and medicine. Asparagus is a member of the lily family. It sends edible shoots from crown lying deep in the soil. The shoots can grow rapidly, up to 10 inches in one day, if the spring weather is particularly warm. Although asparagus is a prolific producer, one must wait approximately 2 years before the initial harvest to allow for proper root growth.
Asparagus rapidly uses its intrinsic sugars after harvest. It is best in taste and nutritional value if eaten within the first 3 days after harvest. Look for spears that are green throughout the entire stem. Avoid any spears that appear dry, especially at its bottom. White asparagus is the same variety as the green; it is grown with a cover of mulch and therefore does obtain the green color from the process of photosynthesis. The French believe the white variety to be sweeter in flavor. I find it somewhat bland…you decide. Thinner varieties are generally harvested from less established beds and are even more susceptible to drying and losing nutritional value. Purple varieties are also now available.
STORAGE AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
Asparagus can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator or placed in about an inch of water standing upright. Asparagus keeps for about 4 days.