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Asparagus
The fleshy green spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender and have been considered a delicacy since ancient times. This highly prized vegetable arrives with the coming of spring. The asparagus season is considered from April through May. The growing season in the Midwest and East extends through July.

Asparagus is a perennial, an almost leafless member of the lily family. The spears are actually shoots from an underground crown. It takes up to 3 years for crowns to develop enough to begin producing shoots, but once they do, they can produce spears for up to 20 years.

Asparagus is used to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones. It is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties.




Asparagus can be served hot or cold. While it is not necessary to peel asparagus, you should cut off the fibrous base before cooking. Wash it under cold water to remove any sand or soil residues.

You can tie asparagus stalks in a bundle to steam them, as this will make it easier to remove the stalks once cooked. If you find you enjoy this unusual vegetable so much that you become a true aficiando, you might consider purchasing one of the special tall, narrow steamers available that allow asparagus to be cooked to perfection-the tips are steamed while the thick stalks are cooked thoroughly in the boiling water. Avoid cooking asparagus in iron pots as the tannins in the asparagus can react with the iron and cause the stalks to become discolored. If your recipe calls for cold asparagus, plunge the stalks into cold water immediately after cooking, then remove them quickly; letting them soak too long can cause them to become soggy.