Asparagus, queen of the spring season

04-05-2018
Logo France Bon appétit

White, purple or green, asparagus is

the ultimate vegetable of the season

Fresh green asparagus

 

Four key areas of production in France

France is one of Europe’s largest producers of asparagus. There are essentially four major areas of production, in order of importance, Nouvelle Aquitaine in the south west (33%), Occitanie covering Languedoc Roussillon and the Pyrenees (25%), the Grand Est around Alsace and Champagne (13%), and Centre-Val de Loire, the Loire Valley (6%).

 

Best ways to eat

Before even thinking about all the wild and wonderful recipe ideas, the vegetable first needs preparing (except the green varieties), and can then be cooked in an endless variety of ways including steaming, blanching or boiling, or cooked on a griddle-pan or roasted.

 

White, purple or green, it’s all down to personal taste…

Newbies to the world of asparagus often ask what the difference is between the three varieties. And it basically all boils down to a question of taste.  White asparagus only grows in the dark so is completely colour-free, and characterised by its delicate, refined taste. Purple variety has more colour as its tips are exposed above the soil before being picked, and as a result is fruitier tasting. In contrast, green asparagus comes out of the ground into the sunlight, giving more intense flavours.

 

French asparagus : white, green purple

Choose and store well

It is not a vegetable known for keeping well, and is best enjoyed fresh; look out for crunchy stems, tightly closed tips and plump and moist at the ends. By far the best place to store asparagus is in the fridge; wrapped in slightly damp kitchen roll, it will keep in the vegetable drawer for 3-4 days at most. It can also be frozen; just blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water and then freeze.

 

Sables des Landes Asparagus

The only variety to carry the coveted PGI, awarded in 2005, asparagus from the sandy Landes in Gascogny leads the field in asparagus production in France. Its distinctive white colour pre-empts its tender freshness.  Its straight spears are firm to touch and “crack” when bent, while the firm tips are tightly closed and beautiful to look at, as well as seducing the most discerning palates. Its unique character draws naturally from the Landes region, and subtly allies the sandy, permeable soils with the mild, yet bracing maritime climate. Its distinctive white colour guarantees its early harvest.  To ensure its exceptional freshness, and unexpected flavours, after picking the vegetable is stored for 4 hours maximum in the cold. At lunchtime or dinner, asparagus takes pride of place, appreciated for its delicious flavours and healthy properties –  at only 25 calories per 100g, it’s a rare treat that won’t affect your waistline. Packed with minerals and nutrients, great tasting and fresh, this is a great quality product.

 

Why is asparagus so good for you?

It is very low in calories.  A reliable ally for any diet, more importantly, asparagus is an excellent source of vitamins (A, B2, B9, C and K) and minerals (potassium, calcium and magnesium).

 

Did you know?

The French eat on average 630g per household every year.

 

A simple recipe idea to realize: boiled egg and asparagus tip verrine