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Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Asparagus

HYG-5508
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/09/2021
Revised 2021: Treva Williams, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Original reviewer: Lydia Medeiros, PhD, RD, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension
Original author: Barbara A. Brahm, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Asparagus has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. It is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, garlic, and leeks. While asparagus typically is known for its bright green coloring, it may also be white or purple. White asparagus is grown in the dark and has the same flavor as green asparagus. Purple asparagus tends to have a fruity flavor. Asparagus is in season from April through June.

For information on asparagus varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.

Selection 

  • Asparagus spears should be straight and firm. Close up of the purple tips of a bundle of the vegetable, asparagus.
  • The tips of asparagus should be compact and pointed.
  • Avoid stalks of asparagus that are flat, wilted, limp, or angular.
  • Asparagus spears should be 7–12 inches in length.
  • Bundled spears should be approximately the same size and diameter as this will allow them to cook more evenly.

Yield

Due to many variables, including moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.

  • 1 pound of asparagus = 2–3 servings
  • 1 crate of asparagus usually weighs between 28 and 32 pounds
  • when canning, 3½ pounds trimmed asparagus = 1 quart

Nutrition

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Fresh, frozen, and canned asparagus supports better nutrition with a range of benefits: 

  • One cup of cooked, fresh asparagus has 40 calories.
  • Asparagus is an excellent source of folate.
  • Each serving of asparagus provides fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
  • Asparagus is low in fat and cholesterol.

Storage 

  • Asparagus is highly perishable, so it needs to be chilled in the refrigerator as soon as possible. A bundle of asparagus stalks with a yellow rubber band around them.
  • Do not wash asparagus before refrigerating—it promotes bacterial growth.
  • Asparagus may be refrigerated up to four days by wrapping the bottom ends of the stalks in a damp paper towel and then placing them in an unsealed, plastic, food-grade storage bag.

Serving

  • Prior to serving, wash asparagus thoroughly in cold water to remove dirt. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.
  • Remove scales with a knife if necessary.
  • Cut or break off the tough, woody portions of each stalk. Asparagus easily breaks at these stiff sections of its stalk.
  • Stalks may be left whole or cut into pieces, depending on their intended use.
  • Asparagus may be used in soups, salads, main dishes, or cooked and served as a side dish.
  • Young, tender asparagus requires only a short time to cook.
  • Chop raw asparagus and add it to a garden salad.
  • Asparagus may be steamed, microwaved, grilled, sautéed, roasted, broiled, stir-fried, or eaten raw.
  • Asparagus pairs well with a variety of seasonings including allspice, basil, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, marjoram, nutmeg, savory, and thyme.
  • Tender asparagus tips may be served raw with dip.
  • Drizzle asparagus with a small amount of olive oil, add seasonings, and then grill or broil.
  • Add browned, slivered almonds to cooked asparagus.

Asparagus, Mandarin Orange, Chicken, and Rice Salad

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons mandarin orange juice (reserved from oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Salad Ingredients

  • 3⅓ cups fresh asparagus (trimmed)
  • Two 11-ounce cans mandarin oranges (drained, reserve juice)
  • 12 ounces cooked chicken breast (cut into chunks)
  • 3 cups cooked, instant brown rice

Preparation Instructions

  1. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and then set aside. Close up of the green tips of the vegetable, asparagus.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. Place whole trimmed asparagus in a large skillet with 1½ inches of water.
  4. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer uncovered for 2–5 minutes.
  5. Rinse cooked asparagus with cool water and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  6. Toss all ingredients in a medium size bowl.

For more information on preserving asparagus, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

David Graper, “Asparagus is In-Season,” South Dakota State University Extension, March 18, 2019. extension.sdstate.edu/asparagus-season.

Joyce McGarry, "Michigan Grown Asparagus," Michigan State University Extension, May 11, 2013. canr.msu.edu/news/michigan_grown_asparagus.

Montana State University. Asparagus. EB0212_03. Bozeman: Montana State University, 2014. PDF. nutrition.msuextension.org/nutrition-cooking-culture/documents/AsparagusFFS.pdf.

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

Olson, Richard, Kellie Cassavale, Colette Rihane, Eve Essery Stoody, Patricia Britten, Jill Reedy, Elizabeth Rahavi, Janet de Jesus, Katrina Piercy, Amber Mosher, Stephenie Fu, Jessica Larson, and Anne Brown Rodgers. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 Eighth Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015–2020. PDF. health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf.

Sanchez, Elsa, Lynn Kime, and Jayson Harper. 2021. Agricultural Alternatives, Asparagus Production. The Pennsylvania State University. extension.psu.edu/asparagus-production.

University of Arkansas. 2013. Vegetable Weights Per Bushel. University of Arkansas System, modified July 23, 2013. PDF. uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/vegetables/docs/Vegetable%20Weights%20Per%20Bushel.pdf.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2020. fdc.nal.usda.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “My Plate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.” Recipes. Accessed June 28, 2021. myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes.

 

Originally posted Jul 8, 2021.
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