Saturday, 5 May 2012

Asparagus - Ten Facts to Digest with it

Asparagus is rather a catch-it-if-you-can sort of vegetable. Commercially UK-grown asparagus is usually around from late April until maybe early June, though with the odd weather pattern in 2012 it's been late making an appearance and crops may be lower than normal. (Meanwhile, thin shoots of tenderstem broccoli make not a bad substitute.)
by Liz West
While we wait for it, here are ten facts which may not be widely known about these succulent spears.

  1  At its most vigorous, and in optimum conditions, spears can grow up to 25cm in 24
  2  It's high in folic acid (thought beneficial for the growing foetus), has potassium,
          thiamin, and vitamins A, B6 and C, and contains about 20 calories per 100g.
  3  It is considered to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, too.
  4  The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board tells us that the larger the diameter, the 
          better the quality and tenderness. This is contrary to 'popular opinion'.
  5  The Roman emperor Augustus was especially fond of asparagus, and kept ships 
          especially for sailing to fetch it for his own consumption.
  6  It's a member of the lily family.
  7  Planting is with 'crowns' which are best placed about 30cm deep in sandy soil. 
          Sometimes a little salt may be added to the soil. Usually the crop is not harvested 
          in the first three years, to allow a solid root system to develop.
  8  If left to flower and fruit, the plant's red berries are poisonous to humans.
  9  French king Louis XIV was so keen on asparagus that he had greenhouses made
          especially to grow it.
10  Perhaps most interestingly, from about 15 minutes after you've eaten asparagus, 
          your urine is likely to smell of it. May be due to a combination of sulphur and 
          hydrogen. It seems, though, that only about one person in four has the 'nose' to 
          pick that up!

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