First spears

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD- FILE -

Cold win­ter weather and snow has de­layed the ar­rival of Peter and Marita Col­lier’s ea­gerly awaited Ir­ish as­para­gus crop by al­most a month.

“There’s not a sign of it pop­ping up this year,” Marita said at the end of March. “I checked back, and on March21st last year, I had my first crop.”

This time around, she ex­pects to be cut­ting her first spears at Drum­mond House farm in Bal­tray, Co Louth, around the mid­dle of April.

But there is good news to go with the de­lay. “The colder it gets, and the longer it stays cold, the sweeter it will be,” she says. With three acres un­der cul­ti­va­tion for this crop, a side­line to the farm’s mas­sive gar­lic pro­duc­tion, she hopes to har­vest three times the 500- 700kg she took out of the ground last year, now that the crowns have had a fur­ther 12 months to set­tle. The ma­jor­ity will be dis­trib­uted to restau­rants by La Rousse Foods, and some will be on sale in se­lected branches of Dunnes Stores.

Later in the year ( end of May into early June), Dunnes will also be sell­ing Drum­mond House gar­lic scapes, the flower bud of the plant which is most often used to make pesto. The scapes will be sold in cel­lo­phane wrapped bunches, with three recipes at­tached, and will be avail­able in more than 100 branches of Dunnes Stores.

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