Good morning harvesters!
As our hardy Washington box customers know, this week was the first time this year that we have seen Washington-grown asparagus in our boxes. We were so excited by the appearance of this prickly, poky little plant that we decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the wonders of Asparagus officinalis. Asparagus was well known in the ancient world. The vegetable appears in the oldest known cookbook in the world, De re coquinaria, by the third-century Roman gourmet Apicius. The emperor Augustus even created a special fleet of ships to haul asparagus across the Mediterranean! It has since become a popular traditional recipe in the countries of northwestern Europe, such as Germany, Switzerland, and Poland. In these countries, asparagus is usually served in its white form, which is created by “hilling”, or mounding soil over the plant as the shoots grow. This prevents photosynthesis and keeps the stalks from producing the chlorophyll that turns them green. Asparagus is a common ingredient in late spring and summer seasonal recipes, which earns the season the German moniker “Spargelsaison” or “Spargelzeit” (asparagus season or asparagus time, respectively). These little stalks are surprisingly nutritious! They are a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as dietary fiber and protein and a variety of minerals like iron, phosphorous and potassium. The amino acid asparagine, one of the most common amino acids on Earth, is named after asparagus because it was first synthesized from asparagus juice.
Enjoy your asparagus, everyone!