Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday's Tip:Tips for Buying and Storing Asparagus

I have to admit, I haven’t always been a fan of asparagus. Only in the past few years have I discovered the wonders of fresh roasted asparagus. So when thinking about spring foods, I immediately thought about this flavorful vegetable. For some reason, it just reminds me of springtime! We have it in our stores year around these days but fresh local asparagus begins shipping about this time of year. Asparagus is sweet, succulent, and tender and is very versatile, lending itself to an assortment of many delightful dishes.

Besides being full of flavor, asparagus is an abundant source of nutrients, making it a “must have” for a healthy and balanced diet. It’s low in calories and sodium and contains no fat. It also supplies more folic acid than virtually any other vegetable and is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B.

So when you are picking your asparagus on the Produce Aisle (of J&J of course), what should you look for?

Be sure you look for bundles with firm spears whose tips are closed, plump and green; shying away from dry and brown bunches.

How is the best way to store asparagus?

Once you’ve made your pi`1ck, it’s very important to store the asparagus properly to keep it fresh and delicious. Wash it thoroughly, pat it dry and cut the hard end stems off. Then you can do two things, you can wrap a moist paper towel around the stems, put in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Even better, is to stand them upright in a couple of inches of water in the refrigerator. If stored properly, they will keep for 2 to 3 days.
Ever thought about freezing asparagus?

Undoubtedly, asparagus is the best fresh and in season. But what if you want that fresh flavor all year round?

Wash the asparagus thoroughly and trim the woody ends. They can be left whole or cut into spears for freezing. Blanch them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. To blanch asparagus, drop it whole or cut into a large pot of simmering water and leave for about 1-2 minutes if freezing. If using it as a cooking method, you’ll want to leave for a little longer, 3-4 minutes. Drain the asparagus well and pack in plastic freezer bags or containers, trying not to leave excess air space. It can be frozen up to 8 months. Frozen asparagus doesn’t need to be defrosted before cooking.

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