asparago

Asparagus is only in season for such a short time, it makes sense to store it properly to get the most out of it.

If you just shove your asparagus in the salad crisper drawer (like most of us do), then you’re doing it wrong! The cut edges will start to dry out, which means you’ll have to cut off more of the stalk than you should, and the delicate tips can get soft and mushy.

The best way to store asparagus is to treat it like cut flowers or fresh herbs, and put them in water to keep them hydrated. Don’t store the spears with the other veggies in the salad drawer; keep them in a cup of water on a shelf in the fridge instead. If you really want to maintain the freshness, cover the tips with a plastic bag.

Asparagus Facts

• It takes three years for asparagus to grow from seed to harvest. Once they start being harvested, they can go for 15 years or more, but the spears start out as the diameter of a pencil lead in year one.

• China produces the most asparagus in the world, although productivity has slowed in recent years. Peru is next, then Germany. The U.S. ranks around 5th in the world, most of which is grown in California, Washington and Michigan.

• Oceana County, Michigan, is the self-proclaimed asparagus capital of the world. They host the National Asparagus Festival in June each year to celebrate the harvest.

• White asparagus is not genetically modified in any way. The whiteness of the spears occurs because of the lack of sunlight. Farmers pile soil over the emerging spears and cut them off from below to give that ghostly-white quality. Purple asparagus is genetically modified, though it goes back to green when cooked.

• Asparagus plants show sexual differentiation. Seed grown asparagus results in a 50/50 mix of male and female plants. The female plants produce berries, which takes their energy away from growing, so the main asparagus varieties are male clones.

• Sea salt was the herbicide of choice for asparagus farmers for many years. Asparagus tolerates salinity more than most common weeds, so rock salt was the good old-fashioned alternative to modern chemical herbicides.

• If you eat asparagus before and after drinking alcohol, it allegedly has beneficial effects. It can help protect your liver from toxins due to the minerals and amino acids, and the enzymes can help break down the alcohol and could help prevent hangovers.