Stillwater News Press

Garden

April 9, 2014

Farmers Market 04-10-14

Get ready, it’s time for some asparagus

The Stillwater Farmers Market has officially made the move to Strickland Park. Our market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. With the move comes asparagus season!

Asparagus, its fleshy spears topped with bud-like compact heads, is often thought of as a luxury vegetable, prized for its succulent taste and tender texture. It is harvested in the spring when it is six to eight inches tall.

Botanically speaking, asparagus is an oddity among vegetables. First of all, farmers only plant a new asparagus crop every 10 or 15 years, and they don’t usually start with seeds. Instead, most farmers will plant “crowns,” which are the roots of 1-year-old asparagus plants. It takes about two years after planting before a farmer can begin to harvest. In the spring, when the weather gets warm, the roots will send up green spears. If the spears aren’t harvested, they will turn into big and bushy “ferns.” (Yes, we know it’s not actually a fern.)

Asparagus spears grow ridiculously fast. During harvest season, farmers struggle to stay ahead of the growing spears. Each field has to be harvested every day, and sometimes even twice a day.

After about six or eight weeks, farmers stop harvesting and let them grow wild.

The plant needs to grow into a fern to capture energy from the sun and store it in the root for the next growing season.

The next few weeks’ worth of recipes will focus on the many different ways to enjoy freshly harvested asparagus.

What’s at market this week?

 Asparagus, freshly cut flowers, herbs, and greens such as kale, lettuce, micro greens, spinach, green onions, beef, baked goods and breads, honey, jams, jellies, Santa Fe-style Mexican cuisine and fresh eggs.

MICROWAVE

ASPARAGUS


Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Time to table: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

Fresh asparagus, thin or thick spears

Per pound, 1 teaspoon butter (cut into tiny dots) or olive oil, optional but delicious

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the asparagus under running water. Arrange the spears in a microwave-safe dish, two or three spears deep are fine. Dot the asparagus with butter or drizzle with oil if you’re up for that. Otherwise, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high:

For 1 pound asparagus (three servings) – four minutes

For 1-1/2 pounds asparagus (4.5 servings) – six minutes

For 2 pounds asparagus (6 servings) – seven minutes

Season the asparagus with salt and pepper. Dig in! It’s also very good chilled for serving later.

Carla Maness is serving as the public relations officer for the Stillwater Farmers Market which has local vendors from Payne County and the surrounding areas. Visit stillwaterfarmersmarket.com for more recipes and to register for free e-newsletters.

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