Asparagus Tips and Techniques
Contributed by: Chris, WebAdmin. of RecipesNow.com
Main varieties grown in Ontario are green - the Viking selections and Centennial. White asparagus
accounts for only 3 acres of production.
New hybrid varieties developed at the University of Guelph, as well as New Jersey hybrids are
beginning to replace these traditional types of asparagus.
Buying and Storing
Look for straight, crisp spears with green or purple tips with tight heads. It's freshness, not size,
that's important. One pound (500g) makes from two to four servings, depending on use.
Although best eaten fresh, asparagus can be refrigerated for two or three days. Wrap stem ends
in damp paper towels, then cover entire bunch with plastic wrap. Or stand straight up in a jug of
Preparing and Cooking
Wash in cold running water to remove sand or grit. Then snap off and discard tough, woody
To keep nutrients, flavour and crisp texture, don't overcook; thin spears may need less than three
minutes. To speed cooking of thick spears, cut an "X" in the bottom of each stalk.
To cook asparagus, add enough water to saucepan to just cover asparagus. Add 1 tsp. (5ml) salt.
Cook until tender crisp, drain well.
To serve hot, use immediately. To serve cold or use in a recipe, rinse with cold water to stop the
Other methods of cooking include steaming (4 to 8 minutes, tightly covered), drizzled with oil
and oven-roasted (at 500EF/260EC for 8 to 10 minutes) microwaving (covered with 2 Tbsp water
on High for 4 to 6 minutes) and stir-frying.
Cooked asparagus is often served with melted butter or hollandaise sauce and paired with boiled
or scrambled eggs. It can also be lightly dressed with olive oil, steamed and wrapped in thinly sliced
ham or prosciutto, or sautéed with garlic and wild mushrooms.
Asparagus is a source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, and an excellent source of folacin. One-half
cup of cooked asparagus contains 24 calories.
For centuries, asparagus was considered a luxury and praised for its distinctive flavour by such
famous figures as Julius Caesar, Louis XIV and Thomas Jefferson.
Despite this, no one is quite sure where it originated, although some believe it derived form a
wild plant that grew thousands of years ago in sandy soil across northern Europe and in Britain.