Early Asparagus season

by Tim Mudge

Asparagus farmers are predicting that British spears will be on the supermarket a week ahead of the usual season start - owing to recent milder temperatures.

Traditionally, commercial cutting for the outdoor grown crop begins on St George’s Day (23 April) although this varies according to region.
Farmers are optimistic about the upcoming season. Our hot summer last year means that there is plenty of energy in the asparagus plants and we can look forward to a longer season than in previous years.

This is great news for chefs and food lovers who consider British asparagus to be the best in the world. The full-flavoured and tender spears result from our unique climate and growing conditions.

Executive Chef at InterContinental London Park Lane, Paul Bates says: “I love the start of the English asparagus season, it tells me that spring is really here and that summer is it on its way. There’s nothing like a warm asparagus salad or a lovely gratin of asparagus with some spring lamb for your first al fresco lunch of the year.”

ITV This Morning Chef and pub owner, Marcus Bean says: “It’s like Christmas day for chefs and foodies when the first bunches of asparagus arrive in the kitchen. For the months that asparagus is available, it never leaves my menu.”

Michelin-starred Pony and Trap Chef, Josh Eggleton says: "The British asparagus season is very short, which makes it all the more exciting when we get the first batch in. Because of its unique flavour and lovely texture, it will feature in a least three dishes: a simple chilled soup, a starter of pan fried pheasant egg, and a char grilled asparagus and radish salad.”

Few vegetables can boast the upsurge in demand that asparagus has experienced in recent years. Enjoying a year on year rise in popularity over the last twelve years, the percentage of households in the UK that buy asparagus during the British season has risen from 2.1% in 2001 (around 490,000 households) to 17% in 2013 (almost 4.5 million households in total).