Asparagus comes into season with the start of spring, and regular harvests continue through to November.
Like most green vegetables, asparagus is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and low in calories (just 16 calories for 75g or 3-4 spears). It is a particularly good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium too.
Green asparagus is the most popular variety in Australia. It derives its colour from the process of photosynthesis as the spear emerges from the soil into direct sunlight.
White asparagus has long been considered a delicacy in Europe. To produce white spears, asparagus needs to be grown in the dark. To do this large scale, growers erect temporary black houses or “igloos” over the asparagus furrows and then dismantle them at the end of the season.
Purple asparagus has sweeter, thicker spears that green asparagus. The purple colour is due to anthocyanins (antioxidants) which are the same naturally-occurring pigments that give blueberries their purplish colour.
Look for spears that are firm and bright green with closed, compact tips as these offer the best flavour. When you snap freshly harvested asparagus, it should be crisp, moist and juicy.
Fresh asparagus is very similar to cut flowers, in that it needs to be kept cool and moist. Try standing the spears upright in a jar with 1 cm cold water, then cover with cling wrap. Placed in the fridge, they can last for up to 2 weeks!
Asparagus is a truly versatile veg that can be used in many different recipes. Get some asparagus on your plate this spring with these delicious and low-calorie recipes!
Grilled Asparagus & Lemon Ricotta Toasts (255 calories)
Ham & Asparagus Omelette (330 calories)
Grilled Prawns, Snow Peas, Asparagus & Noodle Salad (240 calories)
Prawn, Asparagus & Cherry Tomato Pizza (350 calories)
Asparagus, Almond & Pomegranate Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing (85 calories)
Avocado, Pea & Asparagus Salad (175 calories)
Australian Asparagus Council. (2016). About Asparagus. Retrieved from www.asparagus.com.au.
Cardwell, G. (2016). Spearheading Health with Asparagus: The official nutrition report of the Australian Asparagus Council. Retrieved from www.asparagus.com.au.