What you need to know about asparagus

From the end of April to the traditional finale on June 24th, St. John's Day, the popular but unfortunately much too short asparagus season lasts. The healthy asparagus spears were once cultivated only in monasteries and pharmacies as a true panacea and later served as royal vegetables to the rich and powerful, so the vitamin and mineral-rich sprouts are found today in every supermarket.

Asparagus: white, purple or green?

Depending on the method of cultivation, the asparagus is available in three colors: white, purple or green:

  • The sprouts of the white asparagus - also called asparagus asparagus - are protected by heaped earth walls from sunlight and therefore remain white. Due to the elaborate cultivation process, the white asparagus is more expensive than the green one.
  • When the top of the asparagus breaks through the earth cover, it becomes violet by the formation of the anthocyanin plant colorant.
  • Green asparagus usually grows on flat beds under the full influence of light and thus forms the green colorant chlorophyll and increasingly flavor-determining ingredients. Green asparagus thus has a stronger, spicier flavor.

Vitamin and mineral rich sprouts

Asparagus consists of about 95 percent water and therefore provides very little energy - only 16 calories per 100 grams - unless it is served with high calorie fat sauces (hollondaise, béarnaise, maltaise), butter crumbs or with a bacon. Since it lingers in the stomach for a relatively long time and thus satisfies the hunger for a longer time, asparagus has a high saturation value.

The proportion of carbohydrates is 1.2 percent. Protein is 1.7 percent, fat is contained only in very small amounts.

However, asparagus contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. Especially vitamin C, E and beta-carotene as well as vitamins of the B-complex. The folic acid, which is found in raw asparagus in particularly high concentrations, prevents malformations in the unborn child and is involved in many metabolic processes in the body.

Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A) act as antioxidants in the body. The minerals potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and copper are also to be mentioned as positive ingredients of the asparagus.

Bioactive substances in asparagus

Furthermore, asparagus contains various bioactive substances such as saponins, which are responsible for the bitter-tasting lower part of the asparagus, essential oils and the dyes chlorophyll (green asparagus) and anthocyanin (violet asparagus). Bioactive substances have an anti-carcinogenic, antimicrobial and cholesterol-lowering effect.

The typical taste of the asparagus, which, however, develops completely only when cooking, comes from sulfur-containing essential oils and the amino acid aspartic acid. This amino acid also promotes kidney activity and is thus responsible for the dehydrating effect of asparagus, which is further enhanced by the essential oils and the high potassium content.

The typical smell of urine after eating asparagus in just under half of the people, is due to sulfur-containing degradation products.

Nutrition facts of cooked asparagus

The following nutritional information applies to cooked asparagus (per 100 grams of consumable portion):

Energy:16 kcal (52 kJ)
Water:95 g

The following distribution applies to the nutrients of asparagus:

main nutrients
Protein (protein)1.7 g
fat0.1 g
carbohydrates1.2 g
roughage1.0 g

The following vitamins are included in asparagus:

vitamins
Folic acid (asparagus raw)110 μg
vitamin C16 mg
Vitamin E1.8 mg
Vitamin B20.10 mg
Vitamin B10.09 mg

Asparagus can score with these minerals:

minerals
potassium136 mg
iron0.6 mg
magnesium15 mg

How do you recognize fresh asparagus?

Pay attention to these 9 features to recognize fresh asparagus:

  • Fresh asparagus has a tightly closed head.
  • The interface should be juicy, fresh and not dried - in the supermarket, the asparagus are often wrapped and thus the Anschnittstelle is hidden. Best open and control.
  • With older asparagus, the cut ends are gray-yellow discolored.
  • Fresh asparagus spears produce "squeaky" tones when rubbed together.
  • Fresh asparagus has an aromatic smell at the interface. No more fresh asparagus smells sour.
  • Fresh asparagus shines easily and looks crisp.
  • The bars should be firm and should not bend.
  • Fresh asparagus can be easily scored with the fingernail and does not yield to slight pressure.
  • Short transport routes are important to prevent quality losses. Local asparagus is to be preferred. Especially by buying from the farm you can be sure to get asparagus fresh.

13 tips for storing and preparing asparagus

  1. For the asparagus a cool, moist and dark storage is important. Best kept wrapped in a damp cloth in the refrigerator or in a cool storage room.
  2. Asparagus is to be prepared at the latest two to three days after the purchase.
  3. When freezing: wash asparagus, peel and cut woody ends. Do not cook or blanch white asparagus.
  4. Frozen asparagus lasts up to nine months. Afterwards, the asparagus should not be thawed - simply put frozen in the boiling water.
  5. At a temperature of 0 ° C, asparagus may be kept for a maximum of one week, otherwise the tips will become rubbery.
  6. Green asparagus is particularly endangered due to its delicacy.
  7. It is important to ensure that asparagus is always peeled just before cooking in order to prevent loss of quality.
  8. The white asparagus always about two inches, the green asparagus a hand wide below the head peel from top to bottom.
  9. Peel harder downwards and cut away any woody ends.
  10. Asparagus is usually steamed or cooked. Depending on the diameter and type of asparagus, the cooking time is about 20 minutes (white asparagus) and about 15 minutes (green asparagus).
  11. The less water used, the lower the nutrient loss. Therefore, it is preferable to use a sieve insert for vegetables.
  12. The cooking water can continue to be used for soups or sauces because of its valuable ingredients.
  13. A little lemon juice in the cooking water leaves the asparagus sticks white.

Asparagus as a medicinal plant

The asparagus belongs to the group of lily family and was already used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a medicinal plant to stimulate the metabolism and support the liver, lung and kidney function.

The word "officinalis", from the Latin name of the asparagus "Asparagus officinalis", means translated as "medicinal" or "remedy". It was not until the 16th century that the asparagus was systematically planted and used as food due to increasing demand.

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