The perfect ingredient: Pasture Lane asparagus
At the North Yorkshire family-owned farm of Spilmans – run by Richard and Sally Spilman and son Tom – you’ll find nine acres of some of the best of British asparagus: Pasture Lane Asparagus.
Originally specialising in soft fruits, lamb and beef, the Spilmans found they had a gap in their farming calendar between the busy lambing season and the strawberry crop. “Richard doesn’t like gaps, so we looked for something to fill it and decided asparagus was a good option as there’s a growing demand for it,” explains Sally Spilman.
The Spilmans plan to add another couple of acres next year, however asparagus is a long-term investment. It takes two years before asparagus is ready to crop and a field will produce for 10 to 12 years with yield gradually diminishing from year four. The season varies depending on the weather from April to May but always starts in mid April with Pasture Lane’s own asparagus ritual. Richard explains that the spears respond dramatically to temperature and that on a hot day you can see them grow as you walk down the rows.
The farm at Helpersby is run on traditional lines without soil sterilisation. Everything is done by hand, from planting the crowns into trenches 60 inches apart to harvesting the spears.Three different varieties of asparagus are grown and harvesting takes place early morning in the traditional way by hand, followed by trimming and grading by length and thickness.
“Because of our trimming, pretty much the whole bundle is edible. It’s a fast turnaround and with Wellocks’ daily collection during the season, the asparagus is in a chef’s kitchen within 24-hours of being picked. That’s why it’s so juicy and delicious,” says Richard.
We think that Pasture Lane Asparagus is fabulously good – pure and clean tasting, delicate skinned and never bitter. Don’t miss the season.