Where to find Kent's asparagus
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Theirs is a limited season, running - so it's said - from St George's Day (April 23) to mid-June - and their sweet, delicate flavour is much prized. So where best to find Kentish asparagus, what best to do with them - oh, and why do they make your pee smell so strange?
Here in the UK, we like our asparagus green. In Europe, lowland countries prefer theirs white - the colour comes from light deprivation as the plants are grown underground, and the flavour has a slightly bitter edge to it. Our green asparagus grows from plants on free-draining, sandy soil. Whatever colour your asparagus, and however delicious it tastes, it can make the pee of those who eat it smell. This is because the asparagusic acid it contains produces sulphurous, smelly by-products in urine, for a distinctive aroma that can be detected as early as 15 minutes after eating. Most of us consider this a small price to pay, however, given how delicious asparagus are, though, and how short their season.
Where to find apsaragus in Kent
At all good farmers markets and farm shops and at:
Birchenden Farm, near Frant - produces as much as 40 tonnes of asparagus of year!
New Park Farm at Groombridge Farm Shop
Nightingale Farm, near Tenterden
Top tips for top tips
Thinking of getting rid of the woody ends of your asparagus. Don't cut them; instead, bend the spears towards the end and they will naturally break just above any woodiness,
But don't ditch those woody stalks! Save them in the freezer to add flavour to veg stock, soups and risottos.
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Asparagus can be boiled, steamed or roasted - the main things to bear in mind if cooking them in boiling water is place them in a single layer, so that water barely covers them. Boil for only a couple of minutes for thin spears of asparagus, three for fatter ones. If you're steaming, allow three to four minutes. Drain well.
Keep it simple when it comes to serving them - either just with butter, salt and cracked pepper.
The traditional accompaniment for them is Hollandaise sauce - Delia Smith has a great recipe via John Tovey, and should yours split, simply stir in an ice cube to re-emulsify your sauce.
Alternatively, keep it eggy but avoid any Hollandaise hassle by serving your asparagus with soft-boiled eggs (hens' or, if you're feeling super-dinky, quails'), using the asparagus spears as 'soldiers'.
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