When tulips bloom, Mother’s Day approaches, and asparagus pops its head up, we know it’s spring. Asparagus is the first real ‘crop’ of the season. This vegetable is filled with high levels of Vitamin C and A is high in folacin. In contrast with some European countries, we grow only four acres of white asparagus which is grown underground to prevent chlorophyll from turning it green. No complaints here. I love green asparagus.
To store fresh asparagus, snip the ends, and place spears in a Mason jar filled with about an inch of water. Loosely cover with a plastic bag. Alternatively, snip the ends, cover ends with a damp towel and wrap in plastic wrap. They will hold for about 4 days.
Asparagus is a low acid vegetable which means the only way to preserve it is through pressure canning. However, asparagus doesn’t hold up well to high prolonged heat so it is better to preserve by freezing or pickling.
Freezing asparagus is simple and effective. It requires blanching the vegetable in boiling water or steam for about 3 minutes and then sending the spears into an ice-water bath for 2 minutes. Blanching is critical to the process as it prevents an enzymatic action that is responsible to turning the vegetable brownish and diminishing its flavour and texture.
Pickled asparagus is a great snack or addition to a salad throughout the year. I pickled in 500 ml wide-mouth Mason-style jars. The spears need to be cut to about 4 inches to fit in the jars. That means there is always a little left. I pickle those little bites as well as is shown in the photo. Waste not, want not as the adage goes!
When it comes to cooking asparagus, it starts with prepping the vegetable. Asparagus produces lignin that causes the woody stem end. When you snap off the woody end, it naturally snaps to the tender part of the vegetable. So, snap the asparagus just before cooking. To retain the green (chlorophyll), texture and taste, cook quickly in a steam basket or boiling water for about 2 – 3 minutes. I often do this in advance of a meal and then give them a quick sauté in butter just before serving. Cold asparagus is also great for a summer meal or buffet.
Since it’s Mother’s Day, why not spoil a mother you know and love with eggs Benedict and steamed asparagus. Make a quick and simple, no-fail Hollandaise sauce in the microwave! Really, it works beautifully. Serve on an English muffin, toast, crumpet, scone or O’Dough’s gluten-free bagel.
Let’s celebrate spring with beautiful asparagus. Happy Mother’s Day to all.
Quickie Hollandaise Sauce
- ½ cup butter softened
- 3 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for a future meringue)
- 1.5 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- S&P to taste
In a microwave safe bowl, put softened butter. In a separate bowl mix together lemon juice and egg yolks. Let them rest together for a minute or so. Add to the butter and mix. Put the mixture in the microwave and ‘cook’ on high for 15 second bursts. Stir between bursts. It took 4 bursts of 15 seconds to produce a perfect Hollandaise. Add salt and pepper and fresh garden chives.