Clive is our asparagus supplier. He’s the fourth generation of the Martin family to farm at Whitegates Farm, and the largest producer of organic asparagus in the UK! Located in the Fenlands near March Town, the farm is only 20 miles from our packing facilities. That means that we’re getting you fresh asparagus, faster (while also cutting down on food miles!). Clive and his family are committed to farming in a way that is sustainable and protects the environment. Whitegates Farm’s exceptional farming methods are recognized by a LEAF certification (standing for Linking Environment and Farming). We love Clive and his asparagus.
First making its way to Britain with the Romans, asparagus is now synonymous with the end of spring. A seasonal vegetable with a very short harvesting window, when it comes to asparagus, it’s all about enjoying it while it’s at its best. At Whitegates Farm, organic asparagus is harvested from around the 1st May until the 2nd week of June. The exact dates shift year to year because asparagus is temperamental and only begins to emerge when the soil reaches 12 degrees.
When they get going however, they really shoot up! If you were to watch closely enough, you may actually be able to see asparagus grow. During hot weather and in ideal conditions, asparagus can grow up to 17 cm in a day! Why can it grow so quickly, you ask? Well, asparagus is actually the young shoot of a shrub, harvested before it gets woody. The little leaves that line the spear tip quickly become branches if it is allowed to keep growing. At the end of the season the spears are allowed to fern; the plant grows lots of leaves and uses them to efficiently convert light to energy that gets stored up in the roots, ready for next year’s crop!
Tender and sweet, succulent and delicate, these slender spears need only a flash in the pan or a touch on the grill – any more and you lose the best of their sweet, fresh flavour. In our Miso-Butter Asparagus & Chicken Noodles, we char the asparagus to create a smoky flavour that compliments its freshness, adding complexity and texture.
As the weather continues to get warmer and asparagus makes its way into more of your fresh, summer dishes don’t let this delicious vegetable overpower any wine pairings. It is very difficult to pair, because it’s flavour can make wine taste harsh and metallic when consumed together, due to the sulphur compounds it contains and its high chlorophyll content. To counteract this, it’s best to pair asparagus recipes with more herby wines.
Take a look at the full Great Gousto Food Fest menu HERE.