Asparagus is a very healthy, dietary vegetable crop. It looks like shoots, stems or shrub pods. This is an early vegetable, ripening in early April. The varietal species includes more than two hundred varieties. Asparagus white and green
The most tender and tasty is the young fruit. It retained all the useful properties. Asparagus is considered a delicacy. In cooking, only the upper parts of the sprout are used. Previously, asparagus was cooked only in the best restaurants in Europe. It began to be cultivated in Greece. The oldest cookbook includes recipes for asparagus dishes. Asparagus is close to the origin of the onion and leek family. Asparagus pairs well with egg, bacon and shrimp dishes. Italians often use it in the preparation of pizza and pasta bases.
Famous chefs recommend selecting only the youngest and juiciest fruits for cooking culinary masterpieces.
What is it, how does it grow: description and photo
White asparagus is a delicacy vegetable highly prized among gourmets. It has a pleasant and juicy taste. Culture is not widespread in our country. But in Europe it is in great demand. Restaurants and cafes organize weeks devoted to asparagus, preparing a variety of dishes.
Grown from seed or vegetatively. Has thick shoots, grows quickly. And white shoots are used for food, which grow from numerous buds and are much more tender than green ones. There are vegetable and ornamental varieties. What you see on the market is second. The taste of such a vegetable is lower.
Vegetable varieties, for example, royal, are suitable for cooking. You probably noticed branches with openwork panicles and thin leaves that look like conifers in flower shops. These are sprigs of asparagus and are used to make bouquets, giving them splendour. If you do not harvest in time, the asparagus will grow strongly and its aerial part will look like a shaggy Christmas tree.
Asparagus is able to grow in one place and yield up to 25 years.
Asparagus green, white, purple, soy, officinalis: description
Herbaceous species of asparagus are used in cooking, as they have excellent taste and a number of useful elements. Microelements contained in vegetables also have medicinal properties.
Green asparagus is the most common. Its homeland is considered the Mediterranean coast. Taste qualities are no different from white. It contains vitamin A and B groups, selenium, potassium, phosphorus. The price of green asparagus is the most affordable. Harvesting throughout the year. Prone to long term storage.
White asparagus is a favourite of foreign restaurants and is considered the most delicious. The ripening period is spring-summer. The complete rejection of light results in the harvesting of white asparagus. The vitamin composition of white asparagus is represented by vitamins A, B, C, high content of calcium and potassium.
Purple asparagus is a very interesting and individual variety. Grows in total darkness with little sun. Violet tastes slightly different from its counterparts, has slight deviations in taste and is slightly bitter. Thermal exposure changes color towards green.
Soy product is obtained in the process of processing soybeans. The bean mass is soaked, pressed and separated from soy milk. During the boiling of such a liquid, a film accumulates, which is then dried and is called soy asparagus. The main quality of such asparagus is the prevention of oncology and osteoporosis. Soy asparagus has an original aroma and taste. It contains choline, calcium, iron, lecithin.
Medicinal asparagus has a number of unique healing properties. The use of green and soy culture actively affects the work of important organs of the heart, liver and intestines. Doctors strongly recommend eating asparagus for obesity, epilepsy, arthritis, and allergic diseases.
Asparagus: Taste and Color… Cooking Tips
The color, taste, and aroma of asparagus stalks that end up in your kitchen is entirely dependent on the conditions in which they were grown. The time of exposure of asparagus to sunlight determines the color of the stems: for example, the part that remained underground is white, the stem that came to the surface first turns purple and then green.
In order to get WHITE ASPARAGUS, farmers spud the plant – this way it grows without changing color, because it remains underground all the time. White asparagus is harvested as soon as the earth rises above the stem.The stem is cut by hand. During the harvest season, pickers pass through the beds at least once a day.
PURPLE ASPARAGUS is cut when the stalks are just cutting through the ground, but have time to get the appropriate shade under the sun. This is probably why the taste of purple asparagus is more intense than that of its white variety.
Prefer a more intense flavor? Then pay attention to the GREEN ASPARAGUS. It spends significantly more time in the sun and is considered mature when its stems grow to about 20 cm.
The freshness of asparagus is quite simple to determine: the stems should be dense, juicy and a little shiny; the heads of the stems are tightly closed, and the cut points are light and exude juice when pressed. Fresh asparagus stalks have a distinctive aroma and creak when rubbed together. If asparagus is wrapped in a towel and stored in the refrigerator, it will keep fresh for several days.
Cooking asparagus is characterized by some subtleties. If you choose WHITE ASPARAGUS, then remember that it must be thoroughly cleaned of the outer fibrous layer, otherwise the tender vegetable will acquire an unpleasant “woody” taste. Peel asparagus from top to bottom along the stem. After that, each stem is cut from below so that they are approximately the same length. Don’t throw away the asparagus peels – they make a great base for vegetable broth.
GREEN ASPARAGUS, on the other hand, may not be peeled at all, but if you didn’t get the freshest stalks, then it’s best to trim the ends and then peel the lower third.
The method and time of cooking asparagus depends on the individual preferences of the cook. However, there are a number of established gastronomic traditions.
WHITE ASPARAGUS is most often used to make cream soup and boiled as an independent dish or side dish. The ideal cooking time depends on the thickness of the stems, usually 8-15 minutes. Readiness during cooking should be checked with a fork: the asparagus should not be overcooked, which means it is too soft.
If the asparagus is cooked in a double boiler, it is best to tie it into bundles of 6-10 stalks each. Thanks to this little trick, the stems will turn out to be elastic, keep their shape perfectly and will not fall apart.
Also, professional cooks use a special pan with a sieve inside. The stems are placed vertically on this sieve, due to which they are only partially immersed in water. As a result, the asparagus is exceptionally tender. During cooking, the water boiling in the pan should be salted so that the asparagus does not lose the minerals that are so rich.
It is also customary to boil GREEN ASPARAGUS, adding a piece of butter and a pinch of sugar to beat off the bitter note. However, green asparagus, as well as purple ones, are ideal for roasting. Moreover, if the stems are thick, you can pre-blanch it, and then fry it or immediately throw it into the pan if you use mini asparagus or asparagus with thin stems.
Asparagus should be fried in butter, as these two products are perfectly combined and complement each other. The degree of roasting is the choice of the culinary specialist: someone prefers crispy stalks, while others prefer exceptionally soft ones.
What vitamins are in asparagus?
Asparagus contains a huge baggage of vitamins:
- Vitamin A, beta-carotene, which has a beneficial effect on vision and skin. 100 grams of asparagus contains about 4 grams of the vitamin.
Trace elements – calcium and phosphorus in asparagus are very useful for bone development and blood circulation.
- Asparagus contains zinc, which helps to heal old wounds and damaged tissues faster.
- Asparagus also contains iodine, which is beneficial for women’s health during pregnancy.
- Potassium, which acts as a diuretic, which is why asparagus is recommended for weight loss and dieting
- Vitamin P in the form of nicotinic acid, which prevents beriberi, treats hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver
- Vitamin B9 is found in the form of folic acid. This product is recommended for pregnant women, for normal growth and development of the fetus
- Vitamins C and E are also present in high amounts.
Asparagus: benefits and harms to the body of women, men, children
Eating asparagus is very beneficial for the human body:
- Asparagus has a beneficial effect on the health of a pregnant woman. It contains folic acid, which will help with correcting anemia and bear a healthy fetus. The daily intake of folic acid by a woman is 0.3 mg.
- Asparagus is of global importance for men’s health. The doctors of ancient Egypt recommended that their rulers eat asparagus dishes to increase potency. It is used to prevent diseases of the prostate. Asparagus contains aspargin, which reliably fights male diseases
- In the treatment of diabetes, asparagus is also of no small importance. It saturates the body with nutrients, without extra calories. If you constantly eat asparagus dishes, a person’s blood sugar level returns to normal, the work of the pancreas improves significantly, insulin is produced faster
- Asparagus is useful for young children, as asparagus contains fibers that improve digestion, have a beneficial effect on the microflora of a growing organism, and reduce the formation of gases.
Types of asparagus
There are about 200 types of asparagus. Some of them are herbs, others are shrubs. Herbaceous species are distinguished by remarkable nutritional or healing properties. There are very few species used in cooking. Let’s talk about them in more detail.
Actually, “soy asparagus” has nothing to do with the asparagus family. It is a product derived from soy milk, which is an ingredient in Far Eastern cooking. In Chinese cuisine, it is called “fupi” or “fuju”, in Japanese and Korean – “yuba”.
Important! Excessive consumption of soy food increases the risk of pancreatitis, so consume it in moderation.
Here’s how fuju is made: soybeans are soaked until the beans swell to double their size, then they are crushed into a paste. The paste is pressed, and the milk is drained and boiled. The film that covers the surface of the milk is collected and dried for 10-15 days. The dried mass is the “yuba” or “fuzhu”.
This crop is grown in loose, nutrient-rich soil. The lack of light during growth makes the shoots white. The cultivation of this species is a very laborious process, and therefore it is so expensive.
White asparagus, which is harvested for the first time in March, is considered a delicacy and is popular in many European cuisines. For a long time it was considered an aristocratic product and was present in the menu of only elite restaurants. But the established opinion that it is better than green is a big delusion. Read more about it.
Did you know? The first recipe for asparagus appeared at the end of the 4th, beginning of the 5th century. n. e., in the ancient Roman culinary book “Apicius Corpus”, compiled by the famous gourmet and glutton Apicius.
Another name for this species is medicinal or Asparagus officinalis. The most common and widely cultivated crop from the asparagus family. Her homeland is the Caspian coast and the Mediterranean. For a long time, she was given less preference than white. However, today this injustice has been eliminated.
After all, green asparagus has a richer taste, and, as it turned out, contains more nutrients. For example, chlorophyll, which is not found in white form, and which enriches the tissues of the human body with oxygen. Today, green asparagus is valued as highly as white asparagus.
This is the result of special cultivation, where the plant is grown in the dark, periodically allowing sunlight for a short time. As a result of this light regime, anthocyanins are formed – pigments that give plants a red, purple or blue color.
The disadvantage of such aesthetic experiments is the bitter taste of purple asparagus, which, by the way, acquires its native green color during heat treatment. Due to the difficulty of growing, the purple species is rarely found on the shelves of markets and on store shelves.
Like fuzhu, it has nothing to do with the asparagus family. It is more correct to call it “asparagus beans”, which, like soybeans, belongs to the legume family. And she got her name due to the similarity of her unripe pods with asparagus sprouts. It is the pods that are eaten.
Green beans are ideal for vegetarians and vegans because they are high in protein. Read more about this below.
Other names for this plant are soleros or California. It also has nothing to do with the Asparagus family. However, this is not an algae, as the name suggests. This is a succulent from the amaranth family, whose habitat is very salty soils off the coast of the seas and salt lakes, as well as ravines. Distribution area: Eurasia, Africa and North America.
The name of sea asparagus is associated with its taste. On the one hand, it is quite salty, with the smell of iodine, on the other hand, it is similar in texture and taste to real asparagus shoots. Salicornia can be eaten fresh or processed. By the way, heat treatment helps to get rid of excess salt.
Asparagus during pregnancy and breastfeeding: useful properties and contraindications
The use of asparagus during pregnancy and lactation is very useful:
- Vitamins and microelements contained in asparagus, which are contained in a very concentrated form, unlike other vegetables, actively influence the formation of the bones of a child. These are iron, zinc, magnesium, folic acid
- Asparagus has a positive effect on the formation of the connective tissues of the child and blood formation
- Many expectant mothers often experience swelling. Asparagus will help remove them, due to the diuretic action, and also relieves fatigue and removes unwanted toxins, thanks to magnesium and potassium.
- During pregnancy, it is very important to maintain vision. Vitamin A in asparagus will help improve the condition of the skin of a pregnant woman and improve vision
There are also contraindications to the use of asparagus by pregnant and lactating women. Vegetable provokes allergic reactions. Check before eating the asparagus allergen specifically for you.
Also, you can not eat dishes with asparagus if the pregnant woman has diseases of the stomach and digestion.
↑ Recommendations for use
Culture refers to products that are seasonal in nature. Asparagus has a short shelf life, so it is often frozen and pickled. Let it be a little less, but there are enough vitamins and nutrients in processed asparagus. Vitamins PP and group B, minerals: sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium remain unchanged.
Pickled asparagus is added to vegetable salads. It is useful for those prone to cardiovascular disease and for being overweight.
But, for people with joint problems, pickled products cannot be used, and they are used fresh with caution.
Asparagus is also carefully taken in any form for pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract.
The vegetable can be used both raw and processed. When consumed raw, all the useful qualities of the vegetable are preserved in full.
But, you should not abuse raw shoots, otherwise it will lead to indigestion. Recommendations for use:
- The processing of shoots is best done in a couple, so vitamins and minerals are lost to a minimum.
- The benefits of a boiled vegetable will be greater if you use the freshest shoots. Therefore, it is best to cook the sprouts immediately after cutting or buying.
- When the shoots began to fade, they can be revived. To do this, asparagus is placed for two to three hours in cool water and sugar is added. In such a solution, the sprouts will “come to life”.
Before cooking, long shoots are cut off. They do it this way: the sprout is taken by the tips and bent in the middle. Cut off in the place where it naturally broke. The rest of the shoot is peeled before eating raw.
↑ Harm of asparagus
A vegetable rarely causes allergic reactions, but you need to be careful with it. Asparagus can irritate the lining of the intestines and stomach. Therefore, if these organs are inflamed, it is better not to eat asparagus. Also, asparagus is not given to children under 2 years old. From the age of 2, the vegetable is boiled well before serving, otherwise it will be difficult for a child to digest asparagus. There are no other contraindications for the use of asparagus.
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Can you eat asparagus on a diet?
For weight loss and an effective diet, asparagus is ideal. It contains a lot of fiber and vegetable protein. The body will be satiated and at the same time receive a minimum dose of calories.
Asparagus is very low in calories. 100 grams of the finished vegetable contains 20 kcal. The delicacy is used in the most popular diet programs.
Asparagus for pancreatitis and gastritis
During the treatment of pancreatitis, in remission, patients are advised to eat dishes with boiled and baked asparagus. To obtain healing properties from a vegetable and saturate the body with zinc and folic acid. Asparagus also normalizes high cholesterol. During gastritis, it is recommended to follow a vegetable diet, the main component of which is asparagus. It will help relieve pain symptoms and, thanks to its rich fiber content, gently cleanses the gastrointestinal tract.