That’s right. Norfolk County grows about 1,500 acres of green, purple and white asparagus every spring — enough to ‘spear’ the title of Canada’s Asparagus Capital!
Whether you’re driving the region in May and June, where you’ll notice farm stands laden with the nutritious spring crop; or simply picking it up at your local market, you’re likely eating Norfolk County asparagus.
The fine folks in Norfolk County are so proud of this title, they’ve even banded together and created an Asparagus Trail! It’s an easy way to navigate the farms, roadside stands and experiences celebrating the green stuff during growing season.
Labour-intensive to grow, asparagus are the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant. They’re considered to be one of the delicacies of the vegetable world and have a distinct, intense savoury flavour.
DID YOU KNOW? ASPARAGUS FAST FACTS
- Main varieties grown in Ontario at ‘Viking’ and ‘Centennial’
- Sprue is the term for young, very slender asparagus
- White asparagus is grown beneath the soil, casuing a lack of chlorophil to develop and cut just as the tips emerge
- They pack a nutritional punch, with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium
- Asparagus is notoriously hard to pair with wine
- They’re also diuretic, giving your pee an unmistakable aroma (which, curiously, not everyone can smell!)
Look for straight, crisp spears with green or purple tips with tight heads. It’s freshness, not size, that’s important. One pound (500 g) makes from two to four servings, depending on use.
Although best eaten fresh, asparagus can be refrigerated for two or three days. Wrap stem ends in damp paper towels, then cover entire bunch with plastic wrap. Or stand straight up in a jug of water.
Looking for a fun twist on grilled asparagus? Try this recipe from Norfolk County’s Two Fairly Fat Guys for Beef & Asparagus Negimaki.
- 1 lb Ontario beef tenderloin
- 1 bunch Norfolk County Asparagus
- 1 bunch Ontario scallions; the thinner, the better, trimmed
- 1 tbsp Pristine Gourmet Sunflower Oil
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 soy sauce
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp Ontario garlic, chopped
- Wash and clean asparagus spears. Keep upright in jar with ends in cold water until ready to use.
- Cut tenderloin across the grain on diagonal to make long half-inch thick strips and pound thin. Toll up one asparagus spear and one scallion with each beef strip.
- In a large skillet, heat sunflower oil over high heat. Sear rolls on all sides about one minute and transfer to plate. Add remaining ingredients to pan, whisking until thick, about two minutes.
- Slice rolls into one-inch pieces, Serve with reduced sauce.