Kiwis munch their way through more than 2000 tonnes of asparagus over the two to three months that it is in season.
Its appearance on the supermarket shelves heralds that spring is well and truly here, asparagus is cut, packaged and in the stores within 24 hours.
Kay and Alex Boyd started growing, packing and marketing asparagus in 1980. In 1997, Boyds Asparagus Industries was established, with the co-operation of several Waikato growers and packhouses. It is based close to Cambridge at 108 Hautapu Road.
Boyds uses a hydro-cooling system which means the asparagus is chilled to 2 degrees within an hour of being delivered to the packhouse. The asparagus is stored in high humidity chillers before being dispatched via refrigerated transport. “It’s extremely fresh and flavourful because it’s handled so carefully at every stage in the process, from the field to the store,” Alex Boyd says.
Around 60 percent of the asparagus that Boyds produces is destined for the local market and 35 percent is exported to countries like Japan and the USA. The balance is frozen or canned. The company engages around 200 pickers and 100 packhouse staff over the asparagus season.
Whether you plan to cook it or use it fresh in a salad, asparagus is delicious while it’s crisp and juicy, so you want to buy it on the day you’re going to eat it. It’s important to store asparagus in the fridge. “Keeping it chilled is the most important thing,” Alex says. “Don’t trim it until you’re ready to cook it.
“I just put a pot of water on to boil with a pinch of salt in it, then trim the asparagus. When the water is boiling furiously, drop the asparagus in, and when the water comes back to a boil, take it out. That’s about 4 minutes. Put it on a plate with butter, salt and pepper. That’s the way I like it,” he says. “Or sometimes with a thin slice of fresh, white bread and butter.”
Where to buy: Farm Gate, 108 Hautapu Road – Eftpos available and Gold Card Discount. Available from mid-September. Boyds Asparagus is also available at all good supermarkets throughout nz.