I Have a Bright Green Secret

May 23, 2008 in Gardening, Humble Garden, vegetable

Thanksgiving 2007: asparagus frond decor

(Asparagus fronds)

Can I tell you about a secret thing I learned recently?

We planted asparagus last year and this spring we have been sampling a few spears from the 1st year growth. The production quantity is meager in the first year so its sampling, by definition.

Asparagus and mozzarella stuffed blue cheese and basil hamburgers

(Grilled asparagus)

No, thats not the secret.

Garden Project: Asparagus bed

(Asparagus crowns before being covered with soil)

Let me tell you the secret now. Homegrown asparagus is as different from store-bought as a rainbow is to the pitch black of a new moon night.

My vocabulary for flavor is just unprepared for the job of describing the difference between freshly picked, homegrown asparagus versus the poor things at the big box grocery store that has been soaking in germy water for days, traveling unknown miles. That asparagus is also bred specifically for putting up with the rigors of early picking, bruisy travel, oxidation, and temperature changes – all so that the poor defeated spears can sit on the grocery store shelves in pallid water until you pick them up, dump them in a bag, drag them home, and put them into your fridge for some short period of time. They are also likely grown on mineral and micro-nutrient depleted soils, leaving them mere simulations of asparagus.

Another secret – the flavor of the asparagus changes if you taste the stem versus the tip.

Garden Project: Asparagus bed

(Asparagus bed)

The main aspects of intact homegrown asparagus flavor include:

  • complexity
  • no bitterness
  • vegetal sweetness
  • a unique asparagus favor that is present in store-bought but which is divine in it’s purity

Garden Project: asparagus tops

(First year growth)

As you nibble your way to the tip, it becomes sweeter and more tender. If you are not paying attention, it is gone before you have had a chance to really appreciate the flavor.

Just like all of life right?

Its especially dear if you grow it yourself and you know it will be a whole year until the next chance to have such delicious flavors.

In terms of cooking, I would recommend a quick blanch, chill, and then a quick warm up in a bit of melted butter. There is no need to add anything besides a sprinkle of salt.

Let the asparagus sing to your soul.