Matthew Bunch on Seasonal Sussex Asparagus
For me and many other serious 'foodies' out there this time of year really only means one thing – asparagus!
Three cheers now that the asparagus is here
The countryside around us seems to finally be coming to life and we can at last bid farewell to the bleak winter and its icy grasp over the ground. For me and many other serious ‘foodies’ out there this time of year really only means one thing – asparagus!
I find myself counting down the days for the arrival of the first crop and I don’t think there is any finer example of seasonal British produce quite like the freshly picked green spears of asparagus from the field to the shop in a matter of hours. The asparagus season is short (around 6-8 weeks) so the excitement it generates is partly due to the eagerness to enjoy this spectacular vegetable while you can and it isn’t unheard of for people to make asparagus an almost daily part of their diets! It is a really exciting arrival for any kitchen and is the perfect event to mark the change in seasons.
When it comes to growing, there aren’t many times we are grateful for the British weather but with asparagus the colder temperatures we endure ensures the perfect growth for maximum flavour and texture with some of the best asparagus being grown here in the south. Having it grow so close means we are able to enjoy the tender spears at their absolute best, before the sugars have begun to break down into starch and when the asparagus is at its most nutritious. And indeed asparagus is a very good choice when it comes to nutritional value, being packed full of vitamins and fibre as well as being low in fat.
Asparagus has continued to grow in popularity over the years, thanks in part to its increased use by TV chefs but also because it is no longer viewed as a luxury treat, fast becoming a staple food for many people during the season and quite rightly so.
A very versatile vegetable, it can be cooked almost any way you like. Whether boiled, steamed, fried, griddled or even barbecued; eaten at its freshest it really is something quite beautiful! In my mind though there is only one way to eat asparagus and that is boiled for 3-6 minutes then simply served with a good smothering of creamy Hollandaise sauce. Another fun way to enjoy is to dip the spears into a soft-boiled egg as a soldier!
There are countless ways to cook with asparagus and I would recommend looking at www.british-asparagus.co.uk for everything you would want to know about this glorious delicacy, including how to grow your own. Make sure you visit your local farm shop or fresh produce store to make sure you get the freshest bundles of these green delights!
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Matthew Bunch is passionate about local, seasonal produce and currently runs a fresh produce delivery service for Crumbs of Sussex. Crumbs is a fresh local produce store in Washington, West Sussex, selling fruit , vegetables, butchery, cheese and fresh bread.