Asparagus

From March to June

Asparagus is a perennial herbaceous plant which perhaps originated in Mesopotamia. Interest in this plant as a vegetable dates back to antiquity, but it seems that only at the end of the Middle Ages did large-scale its cultivation commence. With the discovery of the New World, the asparagus also crossed the ocean and found new land suitable for its cultivation. Worldwide, the largest producers are China, Peru, Mexico, the United States and South Africa; in Europe, it is Spain, France, Germany and Italy, which has the highest unit yields.

Asparagus belongs to the family Liliaceae, genus Asparagus, to which over 240 species are ascribed.

The root system consists of two types of roots:

- Principal: arranged in a radial pattern on the "crown", fleshy, cylindrical, with branching and indefinite growth; they can reach considerable depths and act as a reserve body; if a main root is cut, it does not branch any more and, due to difficulty in healing, tends to rot.

- Secondary: fibrous and thinner, they are present along the main roots and, especially at the end part, have an absorption function.

Asparagus is a tender and succulent spring vegetable that is extremely rich in beneficial properties. It represents a perennial variety, its cultivation in Europe beginning over a thousand years ago. Italy, together with France and Germany, is one of the largest producers in Europe. Choosing to consume asparagus means giving preference to local and seasonal foods, as well as ones rich in beneficial properties to protect our body from disease.

Conservation

Asparagus must be washed carefully with water to remove any dirt particles, which can sometimes be very fine and hidden in the parts of the tips. If the basal part of the stem is hard, it is advisable to cut it off (to avoid eliminating parts of the shoot, we recommend buying it fresh, when it has just been harvested and therefore it is softer). To keep asparagus longer, simply immerse the bottom of the shoots in cold water for a few hours, then dry them and store in the refrigerator.

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Interesting Fact

The asparagus is a treasure trove of beneficial nutrients, amongst which are plant fibres, folic acid and vitamins, with particular reference to vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. Asparagus also has an interesting content of mineral salts, amongst which to be highlighted is chromium, a mineral that improves the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of our body. In this regard, recent studies have indicated that asparagus is amongst the foods suggested in order to implement a prevention Type 2 diabetes that starts from the table. Laboratory experiments have shown that the active ingredients contained in asparagus are capable of acting by promoting the production of insulin and decreasing blood glucose levels. 

Have you ever wondered why eating asparagus makes urine take on a unique odour? The sulphurous smell begins to manifest itself about an hour later, but the origin is not entirely clear. In fact, analyses of the urine of people who had consumed asparagus found sulfur compounds that are not present in asparagus. Asparagus contains asparagine and aspartic acid, substances that do not contain sulfur. One suspected compound is methyl mercaptan, but its content in urine would be too low a quantity to cause its distinctive smell. There has to be a metabolic reaction that is currently not yet explained. For now, investigations continue.

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Food Fairs

- Wild asparagus festival

In Torriana, a town in the province of Rimini, the Sagra dell’Asparago Selvatico (Wild Asparagus Festival) takes place each May. There are food and wine stands, with tastings and a market.

- Germogli di Primavera.

Visiting the exhibitions of the Protected Geographical Indication Asparagus from the lands of the Piave and Sile rivers means 8 major events, to discover, experience and taste. The activities generally take place from the month of March to the month of May. 

- Sagra dell’Asparago di Santena (Festival of the Santena Asparagus) - AspariSagra

This is held each May in Santena, a town in the province of Turin. 

- Sagra dell'Asparago Verde (Green Asparagus Festival) in Altedo

On the third and fourth Sunday of May, Altedo becomes the capital of the Green Asparagus. Street events and gourmet menus celebrate the prince of vegetables. 

- Sagra dell’Asparago (Asparagus Festival) in San Benedetto Po – Mantova

It takes place in May and celebrates the Asparagus of San Benedetto Po, cultivated in this area since the time of the Benedictine monks. Exquisite first course dishes and delicious mains in which asparagus is accompanied by meat renders the green spear the absolute star of the menu at the food stands and in local restaurants. 

Nutritional summary for 100 g of product

Calories
20kcal
Fats
0,12g
Protein
3,88g
Protein
2,2g

Source: nut.entecra.it

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