How Do I Choose and Cook British Asparagus?

If there is one food season in the year guaranteed to cause a frenzy, it is when British asparagus hits the shops. The first spears of delicious British Asparagus appear at the end of April, but the weather-dependent spears can be earlier. The season for asparagus is short, just eight weeks – so eat it while you can.

Please, only eat asparagus in season. I refuse point-blank to buy the wax paper wrapped bundles jetted in from southern continents which arrive taut, rigid and lifeless as a three-day-old corpse.

Choosing Asparagus:

Asparagus is up there as one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. Steamed, boiled, griddled, roast, barbequed, or thrown in a salad, baked in a tart, the list goes on and on.

Look for lovely bright, green spears which are evenly coloured, taut and unwrinkled with a tight bud at the top.

British asparagus tends to be the thinner green asparagus, while French spears are often (but not exclusively) white to purple and fat. White asparagus does need extensive peeling away of the hard woody stems. After peeling, cooking is the same as for thin stems.

If you are not eating your asparagus immediately, I like to stand the spears in a large pint glass 1/3 filled with fresh, cold water, just like a bunch of flowers.

Cooking Fresh Asparagus:

You can, if you wish or have one, use an asparagus cooker but this can be expensive if you only eat asparagus in season, as asparagus cooks well in a large frying pan with lightly boiling salted water. Or,  steam quickly and easily, again over boiling water.  Asparagus is super on the barbeque and takes only moments. If the weather doesn’t work to drag out the barbie, then use a Plancha indoors.

Asparagus is best eaten slightly warm, rather than hot, is ideal and just as delicious cold. If not served immediately cover with a clean tea towel which will keep it at a suitable temperature for about 30 minutes.

Check out my recipes for the best sauces to serve, or you can simply dip into melted, salty butter. Heaven.

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