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Asparagus: myths and facts
Asparagus is the most popular seasonal vegetable among Germans. The per capita consumption is a good 1.6 kilograms, even though the vegetables are traditionally only harvested in Germany from mid-April to the end of June. The Federal Center for Nutrition has compiled some myths and facts.
Asparagus as a slimmer
Diets for summer bikini and swimming trunks are particularly popular in spring. The fact remains that there are no “slimming agents” at all, but the asparagus contains a lot of water, hardly any fat and only 20 kilocalories per 100 grams. AND it still fills you up for a long time. A top vegetable for calorie-conscious people. In addition, 500 g of asparagus already cover 80% of the daily requirement for vitamins C and E and almost half of the folic acid and potassium requirements. In addition, it contains various phytochemicals, which are believed to have an antibacterial and even anti-cancer effect.
White, green or purple
Most asparagus lovers prefer the so-called white asparagus. It stays bright because it grows under sunlight and is stung as soon as its head lifts the earth's crust slightly. This type of asparagus tastes particularly mild. The violet asparagus is a little stronger in taste. It is only stung when its head has already slightly broken through the surface. Due to this small exposure to light, the asparagus tips of these varieties turn purple due to anthocyanins. And green asparagus grows above the earth and forms the green pigment chlorophyll through the sunlight, making it taste more spicy. Its stalks are usually thinner than white asparagus and you don't have to peel them or only peel them a little in the lower third.
Asparagus officinalis - the botanical name of the vegetable asparagus - is often said to have a pleasure-enhancing effect. This is simply not clear scientifically. The asparagus probably owes this reputation in large part to its phallic shape. The generic name asparagus is in any case derived from the Greek "aspháragos", translated "young instinct". The species name »officinalis« refers to its medicinal effect. For example, the young asparagus shoots were used in China to treat bladder problems and cough more than 5,000 years ago, and the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also valued its healing properties and cultivated it as a useful plant.
It's the freshness
Asparagus is a delicate vegetable. From the time of harvest, it loses its aroma and tenderness, which means: the longer you transport and store it, the worse the quality. Fresh asparagus looks slightly shiny, plump and crisp. The head is firmly closed, the rods feel firm and very typical: they squeak when you rub them together. The interfaces are moist and juicy and smell pleasantly aromatic. The asparagus tastes best on the same day of harvest.
Shelf life in the freezer
Asparagus stays fresh for a maximum of two days. Simply wrap tightly in a damp cloth and then in the refrigerator. Green asparagus stays fresh with a little water, standing in a jar. But asparagus can also be frozen well. The trick is: wash and peel the sticks, but in no case cook them at all, otherwise they are very mushy when thawed. Frozen asparagus lasts between 8-12 months. For the preparation, the frozen asparagus comes directly into the hot water.
Asparagus pee smells
Only partially true. Sulfur-containing breakdown products of the aspartic acid contained in the asparagus are responsible for the specific smell. An enzyme is responsible for the breakdown and the associated smell, but not everyone carries it. There is also evidence that not everyone can perceive this smell. If you are bothered by the smell, it is recommended to drink a lot. That dilutes. The smell-intensive substances also get into breast milk, which changes their taste. Accordingly, breastfeeding women should make sure that their baby accepts breast milk.
Why traditionally ham with asparagus?
Asparagus and ham used to be ripe at almost the same time. If the asparagus could be pricked in the fields, then the ham from the winter slaughters was also fully ripened. Ham and asparagus were both delights that had to be avoided for a long time and which in a way symbolized spring and the end of Lent.
Every year from June 24th, St. John's Day, asparagus ends. And there is a good reason for this: the asparagus plant needs rest. Because by cutting the asparagus sprouts, you take away the possibility of the plant to produce energy. And they need it to produce vigorously again next year. From June 24th, the rung will finally be allowed to light and photosynthesize. The plant is then green, forms false leaves in the form of narrow needles and can grow up to two meters. Harald Seitz, respectively