Seasonal star: Merseyside Asparagus

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Claremont Farm Asparagus
Claremont Farm Asparagus

The beautiful stretch of seaside from Wirral to Southport is home to some of the world’s finest asparagus – a delicacy served to first class passengers aboard the Titanic and sent on the postal train to London for many years.

The best spears grow in a single day and must be harvested by hand before dawn each morning. Once the light touches it, it becomes tough and unusable. But the British asparagus season is remarkably short – usually running from some point in April, depending on the weather.

There’s no negotiating the final day of the season though: farmers say that if even a single spear is cut after Midsummer’s day on June 21 then there will be no crop the following year. Food doesn’t get much more seasonal – or more delicious.

Claremont has been farmed by the Pimbley family since 1906. In the spring and into summer they offer homegrown asparagus and strawberries, and the shop is laden with fruit and vegetables from the farm and surrounding region.

Claremont Farm Asparagus
Claremont Farm Asparagus

Farmer Andrew Pimbley says: “People mainly know us for our asparagus and strawberries, in season we can be found on menus and on shelves of restaurants and fine food outlets across the region. We also grow a whole heap of other veg too like, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, four different types of cabbage, sprouts, pumpkins, potatoes and rhubarb, yes, rhubarb is a vegetable.

“We are also the last Pick Your Own Fruit Farm in Merseyside, so for six weeks of the year we open up the fields and let the public in to pick all our amazing fruit.”

The family grow and sell their own fruit and vegetables and champion local produce in an award-winning farm shop and cafe in the heart of the Wirral countryside.

Open seven days a week, it’s a haven of local produce, seasonal foods and family activities.They have a fantastic network of local producers, farmers, gamekeepers and artisans that supply the farm shop, celebrating the depth and variety of what’s on our doorstep.

Claremont Farm, Old Clatterbridge Road, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 4JB, 0151 334 1133, www.claremontfarm.co.uk.

Asparagus facts

  • If the weather permits, the growth rate of asparagus can grow as high as an inch per hour. You can watch it growing. 
  • Asparagus is a member of the lily family, related to onions, leeks, and garlic.
  • It’s said that Queen Nefertiti proclaimed asparagus to be the food of the Gods.
  • Research suggests eating asparagus can help ease hangovers and protect liver cells against alcohol’s toxins
  • It takes asparagus three years from seed to harvest, but a bed can remain productive for 15-20 years.
  • “Asparagus pee” has a distinct smell, but not everyone has the gene to smell the weird pee.
  • Asparagus is a good source of potassium, vitamin K and folate, and is believed to be an aphrodisiac.