3 May 2017

First pickings from the asparagus bed

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about planting out an asparagus bed. I was very excited about the prospect of picking my own asparagus. However, we had to be patient. The asparagus crowns need to spend a couple of years establishing themselves before they can be picked. This year, the bed being in its third year, we were finally able to pick some asparagus. It was with great excitement that in early April I spotted the first spears poking through the ground. Several days later they were tall enough to pick and we had our first harvest. On the first picking there were only a couple of spears. Delicious but not quite enough to satisfy the appetite. By the end of April we were able to pick enough for a plateful. They were delicious!

Our first asparagus spears

Asparagus is something the taste of which deteriorates fairly rapidly after its picked. Freshly picked from the garden it tastes amazing. We did a quality control against some shop-bought English asparagus, just to confirm that this is true you understand. Such a quality ingredient merits cooking very simply. My favourite is briefly blanched in lightly salted water and then served with a little melted butter and lemon juice. Vinaigrette also works well, as does a classic hollandaise.

The only problem about eating the first of our asparagus is that we have to be self-restrained and stop picking too. In their early years it is easy to overpick asparagus, in which case the plants get depleted and won't do so well in following years. But it seems like we only just started picking our asparagus. Having your own asparagus bed feels like a great luxury, but it also requires great self-discipline!

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