8 Facts You Might Not Know About Asparagus
Depicted on an Egyptian frieze as far back as 3,000 BC, enjoyed fresh by ancient Greeks and Romans and adored so much that Germany has an entire day (June 24th) celebrating it (Spargelzeit), asparagus has long been loved. These vibrant green fistfuls make even the rubber band holding them bunch together look good.
Here are 8 fun facts you might not know about asparagus:
1. Asparagus is NOT a part of the lily family. You will see plenty of resources claiming that asparagus officinalis is a member of the lily family, which includes onions and garlic. However the lily family was just a catch-all for plants with narrow leaves and flower parts in groups of 3 or 6. Genetic research has placed asparagus in a new family known as Asparagaceae.
2. Asparagus treats bee stings and toothaches. According to the Greeks and Romans 2,500 years ago, that is. Green vegetables are always an excellent choice for oral health but the jury is still out on that one.
3. Eating asparagus is good for hangovers! First of all, asparagus is made up of 93% water so there is an element of hydration involved in this theory but asparagus is also a diuretic. Its minerals and amino acids help protect the liver from toxins, and the enzymes in asparagus can help break down alcohol.
4. Aparagus makes your urine stink but only some people can actually smell it. Genetic differences occur in olfactory receptors that lead some people to be able to smell these odorous compounds released in urine. Asparagus contains asparagusic acid. When the vegetable is digested, this chemical is broken down into a group of related sulfur-containing and ammonia compounds.
5. Asparagus is not always green! Violetto d’Albenga is the varietal name of purple asparagus originating from Albenga, Italy. There is white asparagus too. White asparagus is technically a green asparagus, just grown without sunlight. As pretty as white and purple asparagus may be, green asparagus still reigns supreme in the nutrition categor yas there is much more fibre and vitamins present in the green variety.
6. The thicker the stem the older the plant. Stem thickness indicates the age of the plant (and not the age of the stalk). Both types taste equally sweet, nutty and grassy, The thicker spears have a slightly better texture because the vegetable’s fibre is slightly more concentrated in thinner spears.
7. Asparagus will reproduce for up to 20 consecutive years! Asparagus is a perennial and will continue to produce yearly but patience is key. It takes about 3 years to grow asparagus before you can harvest it.
8. You actually can see asparagus grow. Take a seat and keep your eye on the prize. Asparagus can grow up to 7 inches daily.
How to Prepare Asparagus:
The fresher they are, the less you have to do to them. Rinse the asparagus and snap off the woody ends with two fingers. Do as the french do and peel the lower halves for a beautiful presentation and a less stringy bite. Since there is little difference between thick and thin, choose the size that best suits your cooking method. Thicker stalks stand up better to intense heat so they are better for broiling and roasting. Quick-cooking thinner spears are good candidates for steaming and stir-frying. And by all means, when joining the Queen at Buckingham Palace, the proper etiquette is to eat the pointes d’amour (asparagus tips) with your hands.