April 10, 2008

Del Monte Asparagus

I've been absent from this blog for a couple of weeks because of the Spring antique show at Round Top. It's over now and I'm glad to be back rummaging through my cookbooks.

On top of the pile this morning was 22 ways to serve Del Monte Asparagus (undated, foldout). I did a post a couple of years ago on a booklet featuring New Jersey asparagus.

Del Monte used California asparagus when this brochure was published. Now, according to their customer service department, it comes from Washington and Peru. (Most of it from Peru, I suspect, although she couldn't/wouldn't say what percentage.) You can see on the individual can labels the origin of the contents of that particular can.

At the time of publishing, the origin of their asparagus was one of their main marketing points:

It is grown, largely in our own beds, in the famous delta lands of the Sacramento River in California-- the richest asparagus producing lands in the world. Every plant is raised from selected thoroughbred stock--cultivated by experts who understand how to developed the finest raw product.

Until ready for harvesting, the delicate spears are prevented from coming in contact with the air by heaped-up earth. Grown takes place under the ground, away from the withering, toughening effect of sun and wind. Each morning the stalks that have reached exactly the right point of development are cut off below the surface and hurried to the modern Del Monte canneries close at hand. There they are cleaned, sorted, packed, sealed and cooked within a few hours.
Today, it's possible to find out more information about the container than the product inside.

The brochure contains 21 recipes that are in a small paragraph format. Here's one for asparagus soup that is similar to the way I sometimes make soup from canned asparagus when fresh isn't available.


Drain 1 large can Del Monte Asparagus, reserving liquid. Cut about 3 inches from the tip end. Set this aside for use in a salad or hot dish the following day. Cut remainder of asparagus stalks in small pieces and simmer 10 minutes, using the asparagus liquid. Strain through a coarse sieve and rub as much of the asparagus through as possible. Melt 2 tablespoons butter or substitute in a large saucepan; add 2 tablespoons flour; mix until smooth; then add 2 cups cold milk and stir until hot. Then add asparagus liquid and puree, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon butter. Serve with croutons.

The only illustration other than that on the cover is on the rear. I vaguely remember those rectangular shaped cans.

DEL MONTE Canned Asparagus is packed in a number of different sizes and styles of containers. The large, square can (known as the No. 2-1/2 square) contains long spears. The smaller cans (No. 1 square ad the "picnic" round can) contain the shorter tips. In each style and size of container, the spears are graded as to thickness or circumference, and each size is designated on the label as
Giant, Colossal, Mammoth, Large, Medium or Small.
Other Del Monte canned vegetables available at that time were peas, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, beets, sauerkraut, corn, pimientos, string beans and lima beans.

This year I finally started my own asparagus bed out in the backyard. Now I will wait patiently, hoping the gophers don't get the asparagus crowns.


At 7:12 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I've never seen those rectangular cans, nor have I made asparague soup with canned asparagus. That is worth a try in the off months! Would love to hear how your asparagus garden works out.

At 7:41 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Hopefully it will work out well. I've been meaning to get it started for about nine years now.


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