Tips for handling and cooking fresh asparagus
Use these pointers for handling, purchasing and cooking fresh asparagus:
- The quality of asparagus is influenced by how it is handled and the temperatures it’s exposed to after it’s harvested. Cool temperatures keep asparagus fresh. Exposure to temperatures of 90 to 100°F for only a few hours can cause significant loss in value.
- Asparagus should be placed in ice-cold water after it’s picked to remove heat and stored in cool conditions of 40°F or colder for about two weeks. You can store asparagus for about three days in the refrigerator by placing it in a plastic bag with a moist paper towel at the base of the bunch.
- When purchasing asparagus, look for green stalks that are about four to six inches long and at least a half-inch thick. Do not buy wilted, flat, white, split or wood stalks.
- One pound of fresh asparagus equals approximately 14 average size spears, three to four cooked half-cup servings, and three cups of fresh, trimmed or cut pieces.
- Here are eight recipes that call for fresh asparagus: 8 wonderful ways to eat asparagus
May is National Asparagus Month.
The United States produces approximately 25,000 to 30,000 acres of asparagus, and California, Washington and Michigan are where most commercial asparagus production takes place.
According to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, about 80 percent of asparagus produced in the United States was sold as fresh produce in 2012, and consumption of fresh asparagus per person has increased in recent years.
Sources: Clemson Cooperative Extension, Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, Penn State Extension
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