When I see an abundance of vibrant green bundles of asparagus spears in our Produce Department, I know that spring is finally here! Asparagus is so fun and easy to prepare, and it’s packed with a wide array of nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate, and vitamins C and A. With less than 4 calories per spear, there are lots of reasons to fill up on asparagus. Get in the springtime mood by watching Festival’s Dietitians talk all about asparagus!
SELECTION Asparagus grows 6-10 inches per day during peak growing season in the spring, so it’s certainly not difficult to find in the store! Choose firm, bright green spears with dry, closed and compact tips. The diameter of asparagus spears indicates when it was harvested. Thick spears are harvested at the beginning of the season, and the stalks get thinner as the season wears on.
STORAGE The secret in keeping asparagus fresh is keeping it cool and damp. A great way to accomplish this is to keep rubber bands on to hold asparagus spears together and trim an inch off the ends of the asparagus spears. Stand the spears upright in two inches of cold water using a glass jar or zip lock plastic bag and loosely cover with a plastic bag. Store in your refrigerator for up to one week.
PREPARATION If you’re ready to use asparagus straight from purchasing at the store, start by rinsing the spears with cold water. Snap off the woody base of each spear by bending the spear a few times to find a natural place where it breaks easy. This is a fun way to get the kids involved in the food prep!
Lauren Lindsley is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with Festival Foods and is certified by the state of Wisconsin.
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