Asparagus is a vegetable that has been around for thousands of years. It was first cultivated in China and then spread to Europe, becoming an important food source during the Middle Ages.
Today asparagus can be found all over the world. The most popular varieties are green or white stalks with purple tips. Some types have red stems and yellow flowers.
However, as popular as asparagus is, many people still do not know much about this green vegetable. Thus, we made this article for you to help you get some facts before you serve it to your guests.
What is Asparagus
The word “asparagus” comes from Greek mythology. According to legend, Zeus gave his wife Hera two children: Apollo and Artemis. However, he did not want them to become rivals, so he gave each one their own domain.
He told Apollo to rule over music and poetry while Artemis would take care of hunting. In order to keep these two gods apart, Zeus created the plant called asparagus, which only grows on Mount Olympus.
In ancient times, fresh asparagus was used mainly as medicine. Hippocrates recommended eating asparagus because it helps prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This belief continued until the modern-day when scientists discovered its health benefits. Nowadays, asparagus is considered a healthy vegetable due to its high fiber content. Fiber keeps our digestive system clean by helping us eliminate waste products.
In addition, asparagus comes in wide varieties. There is white asparagus, purple asparagus, and some also come in green color. It is commonly used in several dishes, including soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, rice, pizza, and even desserts!
See how to reheat leftover asparagus spears.
Different Types of Asparagus
There are different kinds of asparagus, depending on how they grow. Some are grown underground, while others are planted above ground. Underground growing takes place in soil rich in nutrients. These plants need less sunlight than those that are grown above ground. They produce more roots and therefore require fewer fertilizers. On top of that, they do not need any special equipment since they’re already being harvested once they reach maturity. On the other hand, if you choose to buy asparagus that’s grown above ground, make sure you look at the size of the stalk. If it looks too thin, chances are there will be no meat inside. Also, check whether the leaves are curled up or straight. A curved leaf means that the asparagus is old, whereas a flat leaf indicates that it is young. You may also notice small holes near the base of the stem.
What does asparagus taste like
Many have wondered about the exact taste of asparagus. Does asparagus taste like peanut butter? Does asparagus taste like broccoli? Does raw asparagus taste like spinach? To give you a direct answer, asparagus tastes no exact flavor at all. That is why there are no words to describe how delicious it tastes.
Some people find that the taste of Asparagus has a slightly grassy flavor.
It is a mix of earthy taste and mild flavor that somewhat resembles broccoli. Its distinct flavor actually depends on how you cook it and its age. If you like the taste of peas or green bean, you would probably like the taste of asparagus, too.
In addition, cooked asparagus can also give a sour taste, which can be intensely savory for most dishes with meat. But do not worry, the crunchy texture gives an exciting experience in cooking it.
You can also mix some lemon juice or lemon zest to eliminate the weird and bitter taste. Some would opt to grill it along with lemon zest and parmesan cheese to keep it fresh and tasty as a side dish.
What is also true the white varieties do not have a strong taste, but they have the same texture of asparagus, including the asparagus tips.
Asparagus goes well with duck meat.
Can You Eat Asparagus Raw?
Yes, you can eat asparagus raw if you prefer. Some say that they feel better after having eaten it raw, but others claim that it makes them sick. So what should you do? Well, according to experts, you should always wash asparagus thoroughly before consuming it. Also, make sure that you cut off any tough ends since those parts contain more nutrients than the rest of the asparagus stalk. Then, enjoy it without worrying about anything else.
How Do You Take the Bitterness Out of Asparagus
If you find asparagus bitter, then you need to remove the bitterness first. The easiest way to do this is by soaking it in water overnight. Here are the easy steps to follow:
1. Soak the green asparagus in warm water overnight. Know that this variety has a stronger flavor.
2. Drain out the excess liquid and rinse well.
3. Next, boil it for 5 minutes and let it cool down completely.
4. Peel away the skin using a paring knife.
Know that asparagus flavor changes with the method of cooking. For instance, boiling will intensify the flavor, while steaming will reduce it. As mentioned, once you grill the asparagus, you may want to add some salt so that it becomes crispy and flavorful. However, you must remember that adding salt will change the naturally sweet taste of the asparagus stalk. Therefore, try experimenting with various methods of cooking your favorite vegetables. If you want to try the Asian cooking of asparagus, you can also choose to stir fry it. Importantly, avoid the most common mistake, which is overcooking it to prevent the awful taste.
Different Ways to Add More Flavor to Your Roasted Asparagus
Are you cooking steak with green asparagus? Here are some ways to enhance the strong flavor of this nutritious vegetable:
1. Mix with some hollandaise sauce.
2. Spread some olive oil and lemon juice.
3. Dip with balsamic vinegar.
4. Canned asparagus can be seasoned with salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6. Grill it until charred.
7. Cook asparagus with garlic cloves.
8. Bake it with rosemary leaves.
9. Make soup from roasted asparagus stalks.
10. Use it in salads.
11. Serve it with eggs.
12. Steam it with onions.
13. Sauté it with mushrooms.
14. Cook all varieties of Asparagus in a tray with baking paper (parchment paper.)
What Are the Health Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus has been known to help prevent cancer because of its high fiber content. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and prevents constipation. In fact, one cup of boiled asparagus contains almost half of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. This means that eating asparagus regularly could improve bowel movements and even decrease the chances of colon cancer. Furthermore, here are the health benefits of this versatile vegetable:
1. It lowers blood pressure.
2. It reduces bad cholesterol.
3. It improves digestion.
4. It boosts immunity.
5. It protects against heart disease.
6. It promotes weight loss.
7. It strengthens bones.
8. It fights diabetes.
Asparagus Nutrition Facts
Here are some interesting facts about asparagus nutrition:
- One cup contains only 30 calories.
- The serving size of one medium stalk has around 100 milligrams of vitamin K.
- It also provides over 10% of the RDA of folate, which is an important B-vitamin needed for cell division and DNA synthesis.
- The amount of potassium found in one cup of cooked asparagus is equivalent to two bananas! Potconsume 1/2 cup of cooked asparagus.
- Cooked asparagus is rich in folic acid, which plays a vital role in preventing congenital disabilities such as spina bifida.
- Cooked asparagus is low on sodium but still offers enough iron to meet the needs of most women.
How to Pick Young Asparagus
Young asparagus have better taste and texture. They do not contain any tough fibrous parts like older ones. You should pick them when they are firm and bright green. If you see yellowish or brown spots, then discard those. Also, avoid picking too much at once since young asparagus lose their freshness quickly after being picked.
If you find yourself short on time, you can always buy pre-cut asparagus instead. These are usually available in supermarkets during springtime.
How To Store Fresh Asparagus
Freshly harvested asparagus should not be stored longer than three days after picking. If you have leftovers, store them in plastic bags or containers in the refrigerator. You can use these tips when storing fresh asparagus:
1. Keep your hands clean before handling asparagus. Wash them thoroughly using soap and warm water.
2. Do not wash asparagus immediately after harvesting. Let it dry off first.
3. Wrap each bunch tightly in paper towels so that air cannot get inside.
4. Place the bundles upright in a container filled with ice cubes. The cold water will keep the vegetables fresher for up to five hours.
5. After removing it from the fridge, unwrap the bundle and place it back into the original container.
6. Use within four days if possible.
7. Remove the outer leaves of the stalks until you reach the tender part, where the spears start growing outwards again.
Note: When buying asparagus, look for bunches that feel heavy for their size. Avoid those that seem limp or wilted.
As you have read above, the taste of asparagus depends on your cooking time, cooking method, and its type. There are several kinds of asparagus recipe, hence the flavor also varies. Some asparagus taste bitter, while some have an earthy flavor, and some have a milder taste. So, better know the recipe that you are cooking and get knowledgeable enough about this green vegetable.