Don't miss out on asparagus season - it is a rather short one

Asparagus - royal delicacy

Rheinhessen is one of the largest asparagus growing areas in Rhineland-Palatinate. And yet, nationwide (23,000 ha), Rhineland-Palatinate only ranks 7th with 1,300 ha of asparagus.

The asparagus is originally a wild-growing poisonous plant from the Orient. But do not worry, not the asparagus itself, only the red berries of the asparagus leaves are slightly toxic. It prefers sandy soil and sunny climate. The cultivation of the asparagus was done by the Romans. But it was not until the 16th century that asparagus came to Germany, France and Holland. At the time, it was not consiered nutrition, but more as a medicinal plant in the field of natural medicine and in the field of light food. In 1539, the asparagus is described as an "expensive delicacy for sweetmouths." Since cultivation was difficult, for a long time it was seen as a royal vegetable for the rich only.

The special thing about the Rheinhessen asparagus is, that here it grows a little slower than in most other parts of Germany. This makes it particularly rich in vitamins and nutrients and also slightly more intense in taste. Many fields in rheinhessen have never been used for asparagus before, which, according to farmers, makes it perfect for organic asparagus, as the soil is still free from asparagus pests.

Asparagus cultivation distinguishes between white (bleaching) asparagus and green asparagus. The white asparagus is characterized by the fact that the asparagus is protected by earth dams and thus tastes a little more tender. When harvesting, the pole is stung below the ground. The green asparagus is harvested above the soil. The green asparagus is actually easier to grow and harvest, but also more intense in taste. However, in the 19th century, green asparagus was more and more replaced by white asparagus.

Asparagus is low in calories (17 Kcal / 100 g), rich in fiber, various vitamins and minerals. Asparagus preserves its typical taste with essential oils, aspartic acid and herbal ingredients. Asparagus has a detoxifying and draining effect on the body.

Just like wine, asparaus can only be harvested in the third year after plantation. In total, it stays at the same location for a period of 8 to 12 years and thuerefore belongs to the permanent crops like vineyards or fruit trees. Due to its high climatic and economic requirements, it continues to be one of the special crops, just like viticulture.

Rheinhessen and the Pfalz are the two largest wine and asparagus growing areas in Rhineland-Palatinate. The total plantation of asparagus in Rhineland-Palatinate covers 1,300ha, leaving the state ranking seventh in the total asparagus production in Germany, which covers 23,000 ha. In the last 10 years, asparagus cultivation has almost doubled. Here, too, many small farms have abandoned the asparagus growing and large farms have increased immensely. There are approximately 100 asparagus farmers based in Rheinhessen. Among these, the average size is 5ha. Six years ago, it only was half of that. In Rheinhessen, Stadecken-Elsheim (60 ha), Ober-Hilbersheim (47 ha), Eich (46 ha), Ober-Flörsheim (37 ha) and Mainz (33 ha) are the largest asparagus-growing communities. In the past year, around 7,000 t of asparagus were havested in Rhineland-Palatinate, and 3,000 t were marketed by the Vereinigte Obstgenossenschaft in Ingelheim.

With up to three different slides over the asparagus fields, it is tried to pull the harvest further forward. The royal vegetables can then be harvested until June 24th. Unfortunately, this period cannot be prolonged any further, as the asparagus plants also need to recover for the next havest.

The asparagus has gone through many hands until, fresh and crisp, it gets to the consumer. The asparagus harvest in the field is purely manual work. It then is prewashed on the asparagus farm and goes through the sorting machine. Here he is thoroughly brushed, washed, clean cut and finally, sorted into the different trading classes. To preserve the freshness and quality of the asparagus, it is immediately cooled to 2 ° C after sorting. And only 20 minutes later it is ready to buy.

And what to drink asparagus: Of course, a dry Silvaner, but also a light Pinot Blanc goes well with the royal vegetables.

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