Grapeland began growing asparagus 20 years ago. The Costantino family now has more than 200 acres of green asparagus and produces about 80,000 boxes a year. It is harvested from July to mid-November.
Asparagus is thought to have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, where it still grows wild. The Greeks harvested it wild, but the Romans started cultivation as early as 200BC. Most of Australia’s asparagus is now grown in Victoria.
Asparagus is synonymous with spring – the sunshine provides the warmth, and the rain provides the moisture needed to encourage the shoots to emerge from the crown of the plant lying beneath the soil.
Green asparagus develops its colour as the spear emerges from the soil into direct sunlight. Long, thick, dark green, glossy spears with tightly closed heads are the best quality, and correct cooking results in vibrant green spears with a tender, crisp texture.
It is packed with nutrition, including B-group vitamins, vitamin C and potassium, and is believed to have bio-active compounds, like antioxidants, that help protect the body against disease.