An ancient vegetable, many poets have sung its praises and artists have painted it. Called the “King of Vegetables,” asparagus is a beautifully designed vegetable from a gardener’s and a farmer’s point of view.

Asparagus is literally the growing shoot of a perennial plant raised in furrowed fields. Commercial plantings take two or more years to become established and require much hand labor in all phases.

Asparagus is harvested when the spears emerge in the springtime. Individual spears are harvested when they are approximately nine inches long with compact, tight heads and good green color. Each day, workers walk the furrows selecting choice spears and cutting them individually by hand. Over 65% of the asparagus grown commercially in the U.S. is grown right here in the Sacramento River Delta! While the harvest season lasts only a short time in this northern production area, California’s wide range of micro-climates allows for asparagus from February through May.

Varieties White asparagus is grown covered in mounds of sandy soil so that it never sees the light of day until the moment it is cut. Green asparagus grows freely in flat beds, and, exposed to the sunlight, develops the chlorophyll that turns it green. There are also varieties that are naturally purple or pink but are green inside.

Nutrition Asparagus is packed with nutrients and easy to make ahead for a crowd. One serving of asparagus is low in calories and sodium. It is a fairly significant source of vitamin C, thiamin, and potassium, and many micro-nutrients.

Asparagus is known as the "King of Vegetables" for good reason!

The Lowdown

  • Season
  • Color
    Green, White, Purple
  • Select
    Select bright green asparagus with closed, compact, firm tips. Avoid wilted or limp stalks, as that is a sign of age.
  • Store
    Wrap the stem ends in a damp paper towel for several days. To extend the life, refrigerate stalks, tips up in a cup of shallow water.

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