8 Facts for Asparagus Lovers
Check out these interesting facts that you may not know about Stockton's celebrated crop.
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Big and fat or small and skinny, California asparagus is a power vegetable and kind of a big deal. Check out these interesting facts that you may not know about Stockton's celebrated crop.
1. Asparagus has been cultivated for 2,500 years and for almost 150 years in the United States.
2. White asparagus and green asparagus come from the same plant. Green asparagus gets its color from sunlight. When the plant breaks through the ground, the sun hits it, turning it green. For white asparagus, sunlight is prevented from touching the plant by piling dirt on top of the stalks so the asparagus matures underground. Once the tip breaks through the surface, the stalk is cut with a special knife beneath the ground.
3. Despite coming from the same plant, there are variations in nutritional value between green and white asparagus. Green asparagus tends to have higher levels of nutrients, such as protein, as well as ascorbic acid, calcium, thiamin, and niacin. White asparagus generally has lower antioxidant content than green spears.
4. Did you know that before harvesting, asparagus spends up to three years in the ground? First the seed is planted, then the plant is harvested to give more room for growth, and then it is harvested for a full season once it is fully matured.
5. If you watch closely, you can actually see asparagus grow! During warm weather (around 90 degrees), asparagus can grow up to 7 inches in a single day. Asparagus beds are cut daily, and the harvesting period lasts around 70 to 80 days.
6. California asparagus is grown to be less wasteful than other types of asparagus. Why? Because farmers deliberately produce extra-long asparagus spears so there are more edible parts. You can simply cut off the end and prepare the asparagus. Use the leftover stalk by cooking and pureeing it to put in stock, soups, and sauces.
7. California is the nation's largest asparagus producer, producing 70 percent of the annual crop. Other states that produce bunches of asparagus include Washington and Michigan, while others produce very small quantities.
8. The city of Stockton, California, loves asparagus! The San Joaquin Asparagus Festival is held each year in April at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.
Craving more asparagus? Find out more about asparagus at CalAsparagus.com.