Espárrago de Navarra PGI
Asparagus obtained from the meaty shoots or stalks of the asparagus plant Asparagus Officinalis L, white, purple or green, of the varieties traditionally cultivated in the area (Argenteuil, Desto, Ciprés, Juno, Dariana, Grolim, Steline and Thielim), either fresh or canned.
Production / Processing method
The Navarre asparagus is a vivacious plant, with a productive life cycle of six to eight years. It has a powerful root structure, with a group of main roots that lie horizontally, and from which the secondary roots grow. These roots come from a disc or base, on which the tips form, which in turn produce the shoots or asparagus. If the shoots are allowed to grow above ground, they produce the plant’s foliage. In contrast, if they are harvested before emerging, they produce white asparagus.
In order to obtain the vegetable material for cultivation, the parent plants must be selected carefully, and the seed bed then planted. Selection of the parent plants is a fundamental part of the process, if good quality plants are to be obtained. Select plants (both male and female) must be found and subsequently isolated, so that germination can be controlled. This process takes place in the spring, on plots of land that are at least a kilometer (0.62 miles) away from any others, thus avoiding any undesirable cross-breeding during the germination stage. Once germinated, the female plants are protected with a mesh to make sure that no insects can enter, which may re-germinate the plants.
The mass formed by the roots and tips is called the crown. This is the part used for planting in February, and is placed in the bottom of a furrow, before being covered with soil. The plants are well spread-out, with a distance between rows of 1.4 - 1.6 m (4.59 - 5.24 ft), and a distance between plants of 50 - 60 cm (1.64 – 1.96 ft).Within the plantations, up to 20% of varieties other than those authorized is permitted.
In spring the shoots form, and in this period (as well as summer) the plant accumulates reserves in its roots, allowing it to shoot vigorously in the following year. In winter, the spent foliage is pruned, and any preparation work on the land is carried out.This variety enters the production stage much more slowly than other varieties, as normally two years have to pass.
In March of the second year, just before the shoots form, any cultivation work is carried out, and hills are formed above the plantation line, thus forming a mound which delays the emergence of the asparagus into the exterior. This is what gives the asparagus its traditional white color as, if they emerge sooner, they would turn green as a result of the action of the sun.
Harvesting is carried out daily, in early morning, to avoid the product being affected by the midday and afternoon sun. An initial selection is carried out on the plot itself, discarding any spears which are open, twisted, diseased, etc.
Asparagus to be sold fresh is handled on transporting belts, where it is classified into the Extra or Primera category, and sorted by caliber. It is then placed in bunches, before being put into boxes. The content of each container or bunch in the same pack must be uniform, with asparagus from the same origin, quality, color group and caliber. The visible part of the package or bunch's contents will be representative of the contents as a whole.
Asparagus may be presented as follows:
- In bunches or recipients of half, one or two kilos (1.1, 2.2 or 4.4 lbs). Bunches must be placed in a standardized fashion in their container, and each bunch should be protected by paper. In each pack, the bunches must have the same weight and the same length.
- Lined up and not tied, in the container.
- Peeled, on trays or in bags.
The fresh Navarre asparagus should be peeled and cooked before consumption. To peel, the asparagus should be held by the tip and, with a kitchen or vegetable knife, the vegetable should be peeled from top to bottom, taking care not to peel the tip and turning the product to ensure that the entire surface is peeled. Finally, the end of the stalk is cut, and the asparagus is washed in cold water.
To cook, a large pot of water is brought to boil. Once the water is boiling, salt is added, followed by the asparagus, a few at a time, ensuring that the water does not come off the boil. The asparagus should be cooked for about 20 minutes, or until tender. For canned asparagus, spears of up to 22 cm (8.7 in) can be used, and the production process is described below.
Geography / Relief and climate
The most notable morphological characteristic of the production area is the smooth landscape, with altitudes of between 600 and 200 m (1,968 and 656 ft). However, this is not a uniformly flat landscape, as there are small hills and mountains dotted here and there. The soils are loam and clay-based, loam, clay and sand-based and, to a lesser extent, loamy-sandy, and have slightly alkaline characteristics, which a pH of between 7.65 and 7.63. The area has a mild Mediterranean climate, and average rainfall is 400 mm (15.7 in). The region is crossed by the River Ebro and its tributaries Ega, Arga, Aragón, Leza and Cidacos.
The Institute for Agrifood Technology and Infrastructures of Navarre (INTIA)
Avd. Serapio Huici, 22 - Edificio Peritos
31610 Villava (Navarra)
Tel: (+34) 948 013 045
- Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
- The Institute for Agrifood Technology and Infrastructures of Navarre (INTIA)
The fresh Navarre asparagus should be peeled and cooked before consumption.