On the fringe of the Oslo Fjord about 100 kilometers south of Oslo, you arrive at a little, exuberant summer paradise island, Hvasser. The mild sea air combined with long summer days and a seabed covered with shells, makes the island particularly suitable for growing delicious asparagus.
The three brothers, Bernt, Anstein and Edvart Freberg, acquired the asparagus farm in 2012, and today their handpicked asparagus is sought after by as well gourmet restaurants and shops as private customers, shopping directly from the booth by the green house.
«The unique flavor of our asparagus is different from the imported ones,» says Ane Hjetland Holt, married to one of the Freberg brothers. “We are really proud of our products, which have been awarded the Unique Taste Foodmark,” she adds.
Sticking our fingers in the ground around the sparse green pins, we can feel it’s hot. Asparagus seeds are placed indoors in greenhouses in the spring and planted on the field at summertime. Only after three to four years, the green plants are large enough to be harvested, sorted and sold. However, the same plants can now be used for a further 8 to 10 years. He harvesting period is from May to Mid- June.
Ever since the acquisition, the brothers Freberg have grown asparagus in a traditional way without importing plants. “That way we avoid sickness and can harvest strong, healthy asparagus that has only been here on Hvasser, the friendliest environment in the world, if you ask me, “says Ane, who had guided us around the farm.
The mysterious asparagus nodes with their long underground roots have been resting under the ground through a long and cold spring. Today on a sunny summer day hundreds of asparagus are sticking their nose tips over the earth’s crust.
Hvasser Asparges has focused on brand marketing the last few years and the brothers have lately experienced a significant increase in demand.
The season lasts from May to June, and during that time tons of local asparagus are picked from the fields. The stalks, which stand in neat rows like tin soldiers, are carefully cut by hand before they are washed, stacked and packed. That way Hvasser Asparges can supply asparagus, which is crispier, greener and with more flavor of nuts and grass than most other asparagus.
Only one percent of Norway´s area is arable land and Hvasser Asparagus is growing in one of the best agricultural parts of Norway, located in fields with deep soil of old seabed which seems to provide extraordinarily good conditions for quality asparagus.
Hvasser is not only home of the best asparagus in Norway. This is also a Norwegian summer paradise, where the population soars from 4 700 to 20 000 in summer, including the Royal Family and many from the elite of Norway. Hvasser belongs to the municipality of Tjøme. A warm climate, about 500 islands and islets and close proximity to Oslo, makes this the ideal place for summer vacation.
The Norwegian Asparagus Island, written and photographed by Tor Kjolberg (except photos below).
Here are some of Ane Hjetland Holt’s favorite dishes (all photos by Ane):
1. Raw asparagus from Hvasser with smoked, cured ham and herbs from her own garden
2. Asparagus Soup:
- 700 grams of Hvasser asparagus
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 dl vegetable juice
- 2 dl cream
- Salt and pepper
- crispy ham topped with chives
Cut the asparagus into pieces and fry it for a few minutes in butter. Add juice and cream. Cook until the asparagus becomes soft. Use hand blender to make the soup smoothly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Homemade coarse bread with fried eggs, lukewarm asparagus and crispy cured ham for lunch.
- Simple breakfast with egg and asparagus
- Asparagus with avocado and ginger juice (all three ingredients are well known aphrodisiacs).
- Potato salad with Norwegian almond potatoes, asparagus and chives from own garden