Top tips for buying English asparagus
PUBLISHED: 14:06 03 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:17 20 February 2013
Top tips for buying English asparagus...
There are some seasons I look forward to with absolute relish and the asparagus season is one of them. It really showcases the benefits of Farmers Markets because asparagus deteriorates rapidly after harvesting, losing flavour as well as vitamins very quickly so minimising the time from field to plate is critical.
Asparagus growing expert over several decades, Michael Bourne of New Park Farm in Groombridge says: Asparagus is the first fresh British crop in spring and after the long winters, everyone is waiting for spring. For the season to open with a crop of great tasting Kent-grown asparagus really gives this remarkable vegetable the edge.
And the English climate favours a home-grown crop: Asparagus flownin for the supermarkets from hotter climes really is a pale shadow of its English counterpart. England really does have the best climate for us to grow really tasty asparagus! adds Michael.
Stephen Barnes of Birchden Asparagus, also in Groombridge, has been growing asparagus for 17 years and he agrees that we have the best climate for asparagus.
English asparagus is so tasty because of our temperate climate. It means the crops can grow slowly and develop their intense flavours.
Birchden Farm has been growing asparagus since 1997and Stephens wife Alison is a regular at the Farmers Markets during its season. Stephen says: The most important criteriafor outstanding asparagus is freshness. Our asparagus is on sale within a couple of hours and never morethan 24 hours after its been cut.
Freshness is the absolute key farm shops and Farmers Markets really are the best guarantee of freshly cut, locally grown asparagus.
Beware of asparagus that has dried out/woody looking bases and makesure the tips arent limp or shrivelled.
Many growers say asparagus is at itsmost tasty in mid-May, half waythrough the season.
Michael Bourne says your asparagus bundle should squeak when you rub them together! Old rubbery asparagusdoesnt squeak, so make sure yours is fresh and do the squeak test!
If you are storing it, remove the bottom inch, wrap the freshly cutstems in a wet paper towel, and placein a plastic bag in the refrigerator drawer.
Where to buy?
Birchden Asparagus appears at Tunbridge Wells (Town Hall) and Horsmonden Farmers Markets during the asparagus season.
New Park Farm sells its asparagusat Hildenborough, Penshurst and Tunbridge Wells (Town Hall) Farmers Markets; and Whitegates Farm sells at many markets in North East Kent.