The Rushford Estate - Asparagus
Call 01842 753 551
You can email or call us
direct on the address and numbers listed
on the Contact
Us page. Or please visit
us at the Estate Shop to buy fresh asparagus direct from the pack
Shop Opening times
Mon - Fri 8.30am - 5:00pm
Sat - Sun/Bank Holidays 10:00am - 2:00pm
How Asparagus Grows?
Asparagus plants are started in
greenhouses with seeds. It takes one
year to grow the "crown", or the part of the plant that produces the
spears we eat. After a year the crown is ready to plant in the ground,
and it will produce spears for about two weeks the first year. As the
plant matures it can produce more and more spears each year. Older
plants can produce spears from one crown for six weeks or longer. New
spears can appear on a crown every day, so when it's asparagus season,
tender new spears can be picked every day. . The soil must be deep,
rich and sandy. If the plant is allowed to grow for three years before
it is cut, it will continue to bear an annual supply for some nine
years or more, but the soil must be fertilized every year to maintain a
The remarkable thing about the asparagus plant is that it produces both the tender shoots which we eat, and the fern-like foliage which we use for decorative purposes. Asparagus for the table is cut while the leaves are still in bud and the shoot is less than ten inches high. If asparagus is left to grow, it becomes a plant two or more feet high with spreading branches bearing small, white flowers and brilliant, red berries. When the crop is gathered, some of it is tinned, and some rushed fresh to city markets where it is sold in bunches. In Europe, asparagus is often dried soft can be used in the winter.
Asparagus may be grown from seeds, or roots may be planted in a shallow trench which is later filled in gradually.
Types of Asparagus
There are three varieties of
asparagus—green, purple and
white. The green variety is the most common. The white variety is grown
without exposure to sunlight. The reason why it's white is because the
plants don't produce any chlorophyll when they don't get any sunlight.
The purple variety is rare in the U.S. but can be found in some
supermarkets in Europe.
At The Rushford Estate we grow only the green variety, however within this variety you can choose from four very different grades, they are:
I - Extra Select
The finest grade, the spears are 16-20mm thick
(approx 10 spears per 1 lb bundle)
Class I - Select
Spears are 10-16mm thick
(approx 16 spears per 1 lb bundle)
I - Choice
Spears are 6-10mm thick
(approx 30 spears per 1 lb bundle)
Spears will be any thickness
We also do a kitchen grade of witch consists of asparagus of all sizes but don't meet the class 1 quality at the bud. This is mostly used for making soup as it is all pureed together and the flavour is all that is needed.
Asparagus is a
native to central and southern
Europe, northern Africa and western and central Asia. It is a member of
the lily family, which includes plants such as onion, garlic, leeks,
turnips, lilies and gladioli.
Wild asparagus was loved by the ancient Greeks but it was the Romans who first cultivated it. Asparagus, (Asparagus officinalis), comes from the Greek word asparagos, which first appears in English print around 1000 A.D. It cannot be definitively tracked to any one specific area of origin, although it is known to be native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas.
As early as 200 BC, Cato gave excellent growing instructions for asparagus. The ancient Egyptians cultivated it, and Romans, from Pliny to Julius Caesar to Augustus, prized the wild variety.
The Emperor Augustus coined the phrase 'velocius quam asparagi conquantur', meaning to do something faster than you can cook asparagus. Julius Caesar first ate it in Lombardy and wanted it served with melted butter. And in the time of King Louis XIV asparagus was dubbed 'The King of Vegetables'.
Herbalist John Girard mentioned wild asparagus in the 16th century, and it is mentioned as far back as the 17th century in French cookbooks.
The asparagus growing beds in Northern Italy were famous during the Renaissance period. These graceful spears have always been a sign of elegance, and in times past, were a delicacy only the wealthy could afford. Roman emperors were so fond of asparagus, that they kept a special asparagus fleet for the purpose of fetching it.
Early American Indians dried asparagus for use later or to make medicine. In the dry, arid lands it is especially useful as a natural diuretic or for bladder and kidney problems. It contains a factor in preventing small capillary blood vessels from rupturing and was used for heart problems. A wholesome vegetable drink can be made from the cooled cooking water of asparagus as long as it is not salted too heavily.
As early as 200 B.C. the Romans had how-to-grow directions for asparagus. They enjoyed it in season and were the first to preserve it by freezing. In the 1st Century fast chariots and runners took asparagus from the Tiber River area to the snowline of the Alps where it was kept for six months until the Feast of Epicurus. Roman emperors maintained special asparagus fleets to gather and carry the choicest spears to the empire.
One could say asparagus is truly an international food. With its high tolerance for salt and its preference for sandy soils, wild asparagus grows in such diverse places as England, Russia, Poland and Oklahoma. Asparagus is depicted in ancient Egyptian writings. Asparagus has also been grown in Syria and Spain since ancient times.
Asparagus is highly versatile. In China, asparagus spears are candied and served as special treats. It is widely popular today as a scrumptious, fresh, and healthy vegetable.
Asparagus has been considered one of the finest table delicacies since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Yet strangely enough, asparagus grows wild around the coasts of Europe and in other sandy places.
Of the 150 species of asparagus widely distributed in tropical and temperate countries, many species are only cultivated for ornamental purposes. Wild asparagus grows on the south coast of England.
produces arguably the
tastiest asparagus in the world, for
about 8 weeks between April and June. Because of the cooler climate in
England, the asparagus spear takes longer to grow and therefore the
flavour is enhanced.
We have already washed and trimmed, unlike other suppliers, all our asparagus is ready to use.
Time of cooking
As a general rule, asparagus is cooked when the tips are tender, but not soft to the point of a knife. Caution! asparagus is very fresh so it will need less cooking.
Lay the lightly salted asparagus flat in the top of a steamer over boiling water. Cover and steam for approx 6 to 8 minutes.
Tie the asparagus in bundles, or leave the band on, and stand in 2 inches of lightly salted boiling water. Cover the tips with foil to catch the steam. This ensures that the stalks cook in water, but the delicate tips cook in steam. About 6 to 8 minutes.
Arrange the spears lengthwise (tops in centre) in a baking dish and add 2 serving spoons of water. Cover, and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Rotate the dish a half turn, then microwave for another 2 minutes. Allow to stand before serving.
Lightly brush spears with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill with medium heat (turn once) for about 3 minutes to desired tenderness. Serve as an appetiser with cured meats.