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Preserving Fresh Asparagus

It is a sad time of year...fresh, Michigan Asparagus season is coming to a close. 

Let's pause for a moment of silence...

Fortunately, asparagus can be enjoyed long-after the season ends! There are various other ways to enjoy asparagus year round.

Freezing and canning are the two most popular ways to consume the health benefits of this good-for-you green vegetable at any time of year. But you can also pickle Michigan Asparagus or dry it for later consumption. 

Learning how to freeze, can, pickle, and dry Michigan Asparagus isn't as daunting - or time-consuming - as it sounds. Many cookbooks and online sites offer step-by-step guides on how to manage each one. Read this article in The Examiner.

The right preservation method is determined by asking yourself how you'd like to enjoy the asparagus in the future. For instance, if you'd like to enjoy almost-fresh Michigan Asparagus, freezing is the best option for you. Canned, pickled, and dried Michigan Asparagus may change the texture and taste of the product to a degree, but it's still good in soups, frittatas, eggs, combination dishes like relish and asparagus risotto, as well as dishes that typically require heat. Though canning has its limitations, it certainly does help that cans may be left in the pantry without any refrigeration or freezing. 

If you're ready to give canning, pickling, or freezing at try, stop by a local grocer or farm stand for the last bit of Michigan Asparagus and give it a go! Stock up while supplies last! And if you're a seasoned vet at preserving asparagus, tell us your favorite way to enjoy Michigan Asparagus in the comments below!

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Father's Day Recipes - Let's Get Grilling!

As we celebrate all things that encompass father's this weekend, many of us will be headed outdoors and to the grill. 

Michigan asparagus only has a week or two (if that!) left in its season, so make sure it is a staple in your Father's Day meal plans! 

We're excited to feature these recipes from Michigan bloggers to make sure you and your family get the last of this nutrient-dense vegetable this season.

Feel free to mix it up the way your family likes, and be sure to grill the asparagus even if it doesn't call for it for an amazing smoky taste!

Grilled Veggies with Lemon Herb Viniagrette 

Recipe and Photo:  The Lemon Bowl , a Grand Rapids blogger.

Recipe and Photo: The Lemon Bowl, a Grand Rapids blogger.

Recipe and Photo:  The Awesome Mitten

Recipe and Photo: The Awesome Mitten

Recipe and Photo:  86 Lemon 's writer, Livvy, a Michigan-born blogger.

Recipe and Photo: 86 Lemon's writer, Livvy, a Michigan-born blogger.

Recipe and Photo: Michigan author of  Tracy's Living Cookbook.

Recipe and Photo: Michigan author of Tracy's Living Cookbook.

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Who will be the 2015 Asparagus Queen?

We are less than two weeks away from the National Asparagus Festival, held on June 12-14th in Oceana County. But before that, we must name a queen!

Saturday, June 6th, will mark the fate of one lucky girl, as she is crowned the 2015 Asparagus Queen. Candidates, Konnie Vandervelde and Courtney Kokx, are vying for the 2015 crown. Both are no strangers to asparagus royalty.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Vandevelde's great-aunt, Lorena, was the 1993 Asparagus Queen and Kokx's sister, Danielle, was reining queen in 2014, making it a close race with royal bloodlines throughout! 

Candidates,  Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde , compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

Candidates, Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde, compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

The pageant crowned its first queen in 1975 and has made dreams come true for asparagus-loving ladies ever since. Each year, the National Asparagus Festival (NAF) hosts a pageant and formal dinner where the Asparagus Queen of the country is crowned. 

Once named, the newly appointed asparagus queen will travel the state of Michigan promoting the asparagus industry in Oceana County and encouraging Michiganders to support our local agriculture industry.

"All of the exposure and support goes straight back to the farmers that produce this wonderful vegetable that we're known for," says the NAF.

The National Asparagus Festival's Banquet and Pageant is held this Saturday, June 6, at 6 p.m. at Shelby High School. Tickets are $12 and sold online or at the door.

The formal event will include dinner (with plenty of options for non-asparagus lovers), music, and entertainment. 

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Is Asparagus the Latest Superfood?

We've always known that asparagus has amazing health benefits, like being a great source for folic acid, vitamin B6, and fiber, and is low in calories and fat. But do these health-packed spears possess enough super qualities to be the next-named superfood?

According to an article by Expand Your Consciousness, they do! 

In their article, Studies Show Asparagus Is A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory And Protects Against Diabetes, they name asparagus' best qualities:

  • Helps control type-2 diabetes
  • Top anti-inflammatory food
  • Helps aid in digestion
  • Rich source of B vitamins
Photo by Expand-Your-Consciousness.com

Photo by Expand-Your-Consciousness.com

These powerful attributes, among others, pack a big punch with this green vegetable. And it's in season NOW in Michigan until mid-June. So do we really need to give you any more reason to go out and BUY NOW?

To read the full article, click here: Studies Show Asparagus Is A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory And Protects Against Diabetes

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5 Tips for Picking the Best Asparagus

1.     Firmness.

Asparagus stalks should be firm. If you were to bend it, it should feel like it’s going to snap in half.

2.     Compact Tips.

Look for tips that are closed tightly together.

3.     Stalks.

Bright green, smooth, straight stalks with dark green or purple tips. Along with tight closed tips, the best pick should have a shade of dark green or purple.

4.     Similar Diameter.

This is more for convenience, rather than an indicator of flavor. Thicker stalks simply mean they’re more mature. No matter small or large, a consistent diameter will help the asparagus cook evenly.

5.     It should squeak.

When you squeeze the bunch together, it should squeak. This indicates the firmness and freshness of the bunch.

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The "Clean 15"

Have you ever heard of “Clean 15” foods?

A friend of mine has two young children and worries a lot about the food she’s preparing for her kids.

Is it safe?
Is it nutritious?
Is it made well and does it taste good?

This friend of mine recently introduced me to “Clean 15” foods.

Guess what? Asparagus is one of them!

Michigan Asparagus is a “Clean 15” vegetable because it has a low pesticide load and is one of the safest conventionally grown crops to consume. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, it is a food that does not need to be purchased organic.

Many of us try to buy organic, but when you aren’t able to find it? Or you can’t afford it? Michigan Asparagus! Because it is grown so early in the season, Michigan Asparagus does not require as many pesticides as other fruits and vegetables.

What non-organic foods should you avoid?

The “Dirty Dozen.”

These foods contain the highest amount of pesticides according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce.

Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items.

But remember: don’t let this news deter you from buying fruits and vegetables regularly, whether they’re organic or not. The EWG says, “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.”

What can we learn from all of this?

Buy organic when possible.

Eat fruits and vegetables always.

Get Michigan Asparagus while it lasts!


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