Good Food Blog
British asparagusPosted at 12:28PM, 24 April 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
Round our way, we'd normally be seeing a fair amount of British asparagus by now, but so far there's just been the occasional high-priced bunch (ÃÂ£4.20 at one stall, ÃÂ£3.50 at the greengrocers, 2 x 125g for ÃÂ£3 in M&S). The season doesn't officially get underway until May 1st, but when the local organic shop pulled down their sign saying 'British asparagus is almost here' and the bunches then failed to materialise, it began to seem like something was wrong.
We're all foreigners, apart from my husband, so you can take this as honest-to-goodness objective fact: British asparagus is the best in the world.
Why worry? Well, the family and I do like to max-out on asparagus in season. We're all foreigners, apart from my husband, so you can take this as honest-to-goodness objective fact: British asparagus is the best in the world. We usually have it for breakfast, steamed or grilled (it only takes a few minutes) and served with poached eggs, light rye toast, and some parmesan shavings, smoked salmon or ham. Sometimes I'll make a Japanese-style porridge with it instead, adding the asparagus to the rice shortly before serving so the little slices stay bright and crunchy, and stirring in white crab meat (I keep handy blocks and sticks of it in the freezer) or cooked salmon flakes.
I'm probably preaching to the converted here Ã¢ÂÂ it's a foodie website after all Ã¢ÂÂ but are you as astonished as I am that only 14.3 per cent of UK households bought British asparagus last year? And the growers were really pleased with that figure, because it meant an increase of 20 per cent in people eating it over 2006. Now they're targeting young men trying to persuade them that cooking asparagus can help them with the laydeez.
News from the growers is that this year's crop is indeed a bit late thanks to a cold March and April, but now that we've had some warmer weather the asparagus should be plentiful by May 1st. Still it's possible that 2008 won't be a long growing season either Ã¢ÂÂ it could wind up around the middle of June.
According to the growers' spokesperson, poor levels of sunshine and reduced daylight hours during June and July last year have affected the levels of carbohydrate regeneration in the crowns, which were slow to go into fern at the end of the 2007 season because of the bad weather. Putting a stop to cropping a few weeks earlier this year will, however, help the crowns regenerate properly for 2009.
So get it while it lasts! How will you be making the most of the new season spears?