(Family Features) For food lovers, the arrival of spring means the arrival of fresh asparagus. This versatile vegetable can be steamed, simmered, boiled, grilled, roasted, sautéed - it can be enjoyed in just about any way imaginable.
Naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol and sodium, asparagus is widely recognized as a "Super Food" - an excellent source of folate, vitamin C, thiamine, and vitamin B6 and an important source of micro-nutrients, as well. Asparagus is also high in rutin which may strengthen blood vessels.
The California Asparagus Commission has these tips for choosing and storing your delicious asparagus:
How to Buy Asparagus
- Figure a pound of asparagus - about 12 to 15 spears 9 to 10 inches long and 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick - per 3 to 4 people.
- Select plump straight spears with firm tips and smooth, tender skin.
- Look for compact and tightly closed tips.
- Stem ends should be white or light-colored with woody bottoms only a fraction of the total length.
- Be aware that large asparagus can be as tender as smaller sizes, if not more so.
- Give a bunch a squeeze. If it squeaks you know it's fresh.
How to Store Asparagus
Trim stems. Refrigerate upright standing in an inch of water. Loosely cover with plastic.
- Or wrap the cut ends in damp paper towel and then refrigerate asparagus in an open plastic bag. Refresh asparagus tips by soaking in cold water.
For more information and recipes, visit www.calasparagus.com.