Around 300 varieties of asparagus are known worldwide, of which only 20 or so are edible. There are two main types grown commercially, namely green and white but also purple and an unrelated species called wild asparagus or Bath asparagus. UK consumers traditionally prefer the green variety. In the UK, due to the short growing season, lower yields and higher growing costs than places such as Peru, asparagus commands a premium and the season is eagerly awaited. Indeed, such is the focus given to the crop within the local growing communities, there are many festivals held in these areas.
Asparagus is low in calories and very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6 and calcium and a particularly good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium.
Asparagus is one of the oldest known vegetables and has been cultivated as far back as the Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. The biggest producers are Peru, China and Mexico, followed closely by the United States.
These days, due to the divergence of its many climates, Peru can produce asparagus virtually all year round. In comparison the English season is quite short, customarily lasting from the end of March through to Midsummer Day (24th June). This is the last date that growers traditionally cut it, as it needs to rest and produce the fern that releases nutrients back into the plant for the following year.
Reynolds’ grower, John Chinn is a third generation farmer based in the beautiful Wye Valley, a region perfectly suited to growing asparagus.
John has specialised in growing asparagus since 2003 and employs innovative growing techniques inspired by the strawberry industry to extend the traditional period of asparagus crops by six weeks, as well as a later crop around September time – pretty much unique to the industry.
The Chinn family provides Reynolds with their first English grown asparagus from the beginning of April, weather permitting. Thin or fat spears, purple and white varieties, as well as a class II and an organic option are all available on request.
Why not sample some of our tempting asparagus recipes including;
- Baked Capricorn goats’ cheese with asparagus tips
- Asparagus ravioli with char-grilled asparagus, Taleggio and Prosciutto
- Chargrilled asparagus with prosciutto and a poached free range egg