Have you ever heard of white asparagus? This article will explore what makes it different and how people grow and cook it.
This vegetable is a delicacy in many countries, especially in Germany. Most people are familiar with the regular green and purple asparagus. However, not many people know about the white variety.
White asparagus is a kind of asparagus that does not have the regular green coloring.
Instead, this type of asparagus is milky white, making it unique to people’s eyes.
Green and white asparagus are biologically identical.
People just grow and harvest the white ones in a specific way to prevent turning the spears green.
Did you know?To grow these vegetables, people cover the asparagus stalks with dirt and mulch. This process removes the plant’s exposure to sunlight. In effect, it stops the development of chlorophyll the pigment that gives green vegetables their color.
This difference in the growing method results in a different appearance and taste.
On the downside, the white asparagus spears are much more fibrous than their green counterparts.
For this reason, people peel off the outer layer with a vegetable peeler before cooking.
This type of asparagus is available worldwide.
You’ll find it abundant in Asia and Europe, particularly in Germany.
White asparagus is a German delicacy. There, people have a seasonal celebration they call Spargelzeit or “asparagus time.”
This season runs from early spring to the end of June.
During this period, it is common for people to sell fresh white asparagus by the roadside.
White asparagus has a milder and more delicate flavor than green asparagus.
It is also not as bitter, so its natural sweetness shines more.
People who find green asparagus too grassy and bitter might prefer white ones.
However, it is worth noting that taste is highly subjective.
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The special thing about white asparagus is that it can grow in the shade.
It is unlike most plants that rely heavily on sunlight to thrive.
For this reason, its unique growing process is possible.
The traditional method of cultivating it is a laborious process.
It calls for people to manually cover the spears as they grow.
More modern ways to do it involve growing these vegetables in areas with full shade.
White asparagus stalks are also thicker than green ones.
That said, they need a longer cooking time than usual.
Another interesting fact about this kind of asparagus?
Even when it tastes sweeter, it is lower in sugar than green and purple varieties.
Here’s a comparison of white and green asparagus.
White asparagus is grown underground or shielded from sunlight.
Green asparagus is grown in open fields and exposed to sunlight.
This process is allowing the development of chlorophyll, which gives it a green color.
White asparagus has a creamy, pale white color.
It is typically thicker and more elongated than green asparagus.
Green asparagus has a vibrant green color throughout its spears, which are generally thinner than white asparagus.
Compared to green asparagus, it is less bitter and more tender.
Its flavor is often described as delicate, nutty, and subtly sweet.
Green asparagus has a more pronounced grassy flavor, sometimes slightly bitter.
White asparagus has a more fibrous and tender texture compared to green asparagus.
It requires careful cooking to maintain its tenderness.
Green asparagus has a crisper and more firm texture, often described as “snappy.”
It retains its texture even after cooking.
White asparagus is commonly used in soups, salads, and side dishes.
It is often peeled before cooking to remove the outer fibrous layer.
It pairs well with creamy sauces, hollandaise, butter, and vinaigrettes.
Green asparagus is versatile and can be used in various culinary applications. It can be grilled, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried.
It is often enjoyed as a standalone vegetable or incorporated into pasta, risotto, and stir-fries.
White asparagus is typically available during a short growing season in the spring, usually from April to June, depending on the region.
Green asparagus is more widely available and can be found in grocery stores year-round, although it is more abundant during the spring and early summer.
You can cook it in any way you’d cook traditional green or purple varieties.
However, you need to peel the bottom part of the stalk to get rid of the fibers.
This extra step improves the texture of the cooked white asparagus.
Pro Tip: You’d need to extend the cooking time when cooking white asparagus.
Here are several ways to cook this exquisite vegetable.
One of the easiest ways to cook it is to steam it.
Simply fill a steamer with water and add a dash of lemon juice.
Bring the liquid to a boil.
Then, place washed and peeled asparagus into the steaming basket.
Cover and cook until tender.
Serve steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce for the best results.
Boiling is a quick and easy way to cook white asparagus.
Just bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Gently lower the washed and peeled asparagus into the boiling water.
Let the stalks cook until they are tender enough to “give” when you poke them with a fork.
Depending on the thickness of the asparagus, this can take around 5-7 minutes.
Roasting asparagus is another great way to cook it.
This method brings out its natural sweetness and gives it a crispy texture.
To roast asparagus, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) first.
Wash and trim the asparagus, then drizzle it with olive oil.
Sprinkle salt and pepper and spread the stalks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast until the asparagus is tender and lightly browned.
This process can take about 15-20 minutes.
Because asparagus stalks are firm, you may also grill them.
Start by heating your grill to medium-high heat.
Drizzle your washed and peeled asparagus stalks with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Then, place the stalks on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes.
Turn them occasionally until they’re tender and have grill marks on them.
White asparagus is expensive because of its specialized growing process. Growing this variety needs more work, which translates to higher prices. The shorter growing season also affects the price of this vegetable.
Yes, you do need to peel it before eating it. The asparagus spears have tough, fibrous, and bitter skins. You must remove this skin with a vegetable peeler before eating the vegetable. Trimming the woody bottom thirds of each spear is also necessary.
You can steam, roast, boil, or grill it. After cooking, you can use it as a side dish or as part of a salad. It is also a good ingredient in soups, quiches, and frittatas. They are also great as a topping on pizza or bruschetta.
Yes, you may eat white asparagus raw, but you may not want to. It is tough when raw, which is why most people choose to cook it first. If you want to try eating them raw, it is best to slice them thinly and pickle them before consumption.
White asparagus is simply green asparagus that people cultivate differently. It is the same plant variety as green asparagus but has a different appearance and taste.
You can cook it the same way. However, you need to peel it first before cooking.
You must also note that this type of asparagus is more expensive than green asparagus. Its shorter growing season and special growing process greatly influence its higher price tag.