Asparagus - Apareka/Pikopiko Pākehā

Asparagus originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and was a favourite of the Greeks and Romans who used it as a medicine.

Varieties of asparagus grow wild in parts of Europe, Turkey, Africa, Middle East and Asia.

New Zealanders like green asparagus, however, purple asparagus is becoming more available in New Zealand.

In some countries people prefer to eat white asparagus (it stays white because it is grown covered in soil), but little, if any, white asparagus is grown here.

Watch the video on growing asparagus in New Zealand here or click on the image below.

What to look for

Choose straight firm green stems. Insist on fresh, clean product with trimmed ends and a minimum of white butt. Fresh asparagus is ‘squeaky’ – when the spears are gently rubbed they squeak; old asparagus is rubbery and doesn’t squeak.


Available: September to March
High season: November to December


Keep asparagus refrigerated with butt ends either wrapped in wet paper towels, stand up in a jar with 1-2 cm of water (like flowers in a vase), or alternatively wash, then refrigerate in paper bags.

How to prepare

Snap or slice off tough ends. These ends can used to flavour soups or stocks. Cooked asparagus should be tender but slightly crisp. For maximum flavour, don’t overcook. Asparagus for use in salads is generally blanched, however, if the asparagus is thin and fresh it can be used raw. Purple asparagus is often eaten raw as it is sweeter and more tender than green. To retain the purple colour, add a little lemon juice or vinegar when cooking and cook for a very short time using a method such as stir frying.

Ways to eat

Lightly steam, stir fry, microwave, boil, bake or barbecue asparagus. Serve asparagus with hollandaise or aioli, or use in soups, quiches, pies, salads, stir fries, or eat with fresh bread. Click here for recipes.

Cooking methods

Boil, braise, char grill/barbecue, microwave, roast, steam, stir fry.


Asparagus is a good source of folate, a source of dietary fibre, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin K, and contains a dietary significant amount of potassium. Asparagus contains a range of phytonutrients, particularly from the phenolic and carotenoid groups.

Nutrition table

Nutrition Information        
Serving Size: 1 cup (8 spears) = 134g  
  Average Quantity
per serving
% Daily Intake per serve Average Quantity
per 100g
Energy (kJ/Cal) 127/30 1% 95/23  
Protein (g) 3.6 7% 2.7  
Fat, total (g) 0.3 0% 0.2  
 - saturated (g) 0.08 0% 0.06  
Available carbohydrate (g) 2.1 1% 1.6  
 - sugars (g) 2.1 2% 1.6  
Dietary Fibre (g) 2.4   1.8 A source of dietary fibre
Sodium (mg) 0 0% 0  
Folate (µg) 188 94% RDI* 140 A good source of folate
Niacin (mg) 2.4 24% RDI* 1.8 A source of niacin
Thiamin (mg) 0.27 24% RDI* 0.2 A source of thiamin
Riboflavin (mg) 0.34 20% RDI* 0.25 A source of riboflavin
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.21 13% RDI* 0.16 A source of vitamin B6
Vitamin C (mg) 4 10% RDI* 3 A source of vitamin C
Vitamin K (µg) 11 13% ESADDI** 8 A source of vitamin K
Potassium (mg) 335   250 Contains potassium
Vitamin A Equiv. (µg) 36 5% RDI* 27  
Vitamin E (mg) 0.39 4% RDI* 0.29  
Calcium (mg) 26 3% RDI* 20  
Iron (mg) 0.5 4% RDI* 0.4  
Selenium (µg) 2.8 4% RDI* 2.1  
Zinc (mg) 0.8 6% RDI* 0.6  
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Your daily Intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.  
 *Recommended Dietary Intake (Average Adult)
**Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake
Source: FOODfiles 2018        



Asparagus is one of the most highly perishable vegetables so special care must be taken. Make sure displays contain only crisp snappy spears. Discard any limp or damaged spears. Display with butt ends on wet foam pads as the butt end must be kept wet to avoid dehydration. Trim butt ends daily to maintain a fresh crisp product. Bring out only what is required for display and replenish the display from the chiller. It is better to keep the display relatively small and keep restocking it. Return unsold stock to the chiller at the end of the day. Use QR code on labels.

Store at 2-4ºC with approximately 95% relative humidity. Asparagus has a high water content and will lose water if stored in a dry environment. Store with butt ends on wet foam pads. Asparagus is ethylene sensitive so store separately from ethylene producing produce.

Purchase asparagus with the New Zealand GAP logo.