The asparagus season is tantalisingly brief — just six weeks if we are lucky — so we have to make the most of it. This year it will be appearing through the soil early in May and will continue until late June.

It is a vegetable that has been popular throughout the ages, the earliest records of its cultivation in Greece dating back some 2,500 years. Now it is available in supermarkets throughout the year. But what you are getting when you buy it out of season is a vegetable that has travelled all the way from Peru. As asparagus is at its best when eaten the day it is harvested, eating imported asparagus is akin to eating second best.

Fresh asparagus not only tastes good, but it does you good, as it is rich in Vitamin C and glutathione and contains more folic acid than any other vegetable. Just six spears contain some 135 micrograms of folate which is almost half an adult’s recommended daily intake.

The delightful thing about this delicious vegetable is that it can be enjoyed as a starter with Hollandaise sauce and served as a vegetable with the main meal. It is also a great basis for omelettes, stir-fries and salads.

Once picked, asparagus loses flavour and tenderness rapidly, which is why it is worth making the effort and buying it farm fresh. If you have to store it for a day before eating, wrap damp kitchen paper round its stalks and store at the bottom of the fridge. Although some chefs argue it can be frozen successfully, it really is best to eat it straight away. It is all the more precious for the shortness of its season, which ends all too quickly.