Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, a vitamin that helps make new cells and is important for a healthy pregnancy.
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- Look for asparagus with stalks that are firm and tips that are tightly closed. Avoid stalks that look limp or wilted.
- The thickness of the stalk does not determine its quality. All sizes, from thin to thick, can be tender and flavorful.
- Choose stalks that are similar in size. They will be easier to prepare and cook evenly. Choose local asparagus for best flavor and quality. Find it fresh in Oregon in April and May.
- Asparagus is also available canned and frozen.
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- Refrigerate fresh asparagus for up to four days.
- Stand stalks in 1 inch of water like a flower bouquet and cover with a plastic bag, OR
- Wrap cut ends in a damp paper towel and cover the towel with plastic.
- Rinse under cool running water just before using.
- To remove tough ends:
- Hold an end of a stalk in one hand and the middle of the stalk in the other hand. Gently bend to snap, OR
- Cut off the bottom inch of the stalks, then peel tougher base ends if needed.
- Asparagus can be worthwhile to grow because it can produce fresh spears for up to 30 years.
- Plants need a large space with full sun and soil that drains well.
- Start seeds indoors or find one-year-old plants (called crowns or roots) at garden supply stores.
- Wait to harvest spears for 2 to 3 years so that roots can grow strong. A mature plant will provide ½ to 1 pound of spears each year.
- Green and purple asparagus grow from different plant varieties, but green and white grow from the same plant. When spears grow up through the ground, exposure to sunlight turns them green. Spears will be white if they are covered while growing.
When kids help make healthy food, they are more likely to try it. Show kids how to:
- snap off the woody end of stalks.
- rinse vegetables under cool running water.
- toast English muffins.