What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

April 18, 2012

Local, Fresh-Picked Asparagus Now at Sigona’s

Local, Fresh-Picked Asparagus Now at Sigona’s

Local asparagus is now at Sigona's! Look for fresh spears from Salinas and Stockton.

by Robbie Sigona

Local asparagus is in and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Although we’ve enjoyed asparagus all winter, now is the time you will see prices really tumble and quality soar.

It’s exciting knowing that our true season is starting; the asparagus will naturally be fresher and that’s because it’s picked in the morning and delivered that evening. We know we might say this about a lot of the locally grown produce, but this local asparagus really is the best.

Asparagus, just like corn, begins to convert its sugars to starch from the moment it’s picked. So, the sooner you eat it after it’s picked the sweeter and more tender it will be, especially compared to asparagus that traveled a distance to the store.

Might as well call it backyard-grown

The local spears we have in now are from Salinas, CA, (they’re gorgeous!) as well as from Victoria Island Farms near Stockton, CA. Victoria Island Farms’ asparagus is known as Delta-grown asparagus – a regional specialty that is world-renowned for its quality produce because of its rich soil and ideal weather.

It’s a combination, really, of travel distance, weather and soil that makes for our region’s outstanding asparagus. The weather and soil here make for ideal growing conditions, all of which contribute to sweetness.

Did you know?

One of the telltale signs of fresh asparagus is its squeak. Yep, perfectly fresh asparagus squeaks a bit when lightly squeezed, not unlike the way a good artichoke squeaks when squeezed. You can learn more about how to select asparagus in my asparagus produce tips box.

Also, did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family? It was first grown in the Mediterranean region more than 2,000 years ago. We’re glad this spring veggie made its way to the Americas with early settlers.

As for nutrition, asparagus packs a punch of goodness. In addition to the supply of vitamins A and C, iron, zinc and fiber, one of its most famous attributes is the amount of folate (a.k.a. folic acid). Folate is important for pregnant women as it’s been found to aid in the prevention of birth defects. It also helps complete the development of red blood vessels and can help fight against heart attack or stroke. So…eat up!

Enjoying the spears

I love the really thick spears just boiled slightly…you really don’t want to overcook them! I’ve also grilled and barbequed thinner spears after they’re rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper — they’re delicious.

Asparagus is also a sweet addition to omelets, breakfast tacos and frittatas, and is nice in cold in salads or stir-fries combined with a little red bell pepper. The color contrast is fantastic!

It’s hard to miss on asparagus now. I just caution not to overcook them and enjoy the season. Check out our asparagus recipes, including Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus and Avocado from local food blogger Amy Sherman.

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