White Asparagus

What is White Asparagus and How is it Grown?

White asparagus is the same as green asparagus but grown without daylight. Denying the spears daylight as they grow prevents photosynthesis from taking place and this is the process that produces the green colouring in plants.

WHite Asparagus ready to peel

The plants are grown in the dark by piling soil on top of the spears as they appear and then cutting them well below the surface with a special knife before they grow through the soil into the daylight.

The varieties planted to produce this type of Asparagus are generally different from those planted for green asparagus.

Growing the spears this way involves more labour and inevitably therefore makes the white spears more expensive.

Where is it Popular?

It is very very popular in Europe with the exception of the UK where green asparagus predominates. The Netherlands, Spain, France, Switzerland and especially Germany are all big White Asparagus consumers.

Certain regions of Germanany have very sandy soils that are particularly suited to the growing process and in these areas White Asparagus or Spargel is big business. During the spargel season many restaurants ("Spargelhof") open up in these asparagus growing regions serving spargel menus, organising "Spargel Routes" and week long festivals take place with music, Spargel queens etc.

On the continent white canned asparagus sits on all the supermarket shelves alongside other canned products. From the volumes for sale it must be very widely eaten.

Grading

Whilst green asparagus comes in different stalk thicknesses (stalk thickness is in no way related to quality but relates to variety) the thickest stalked white variety is valued most highly and it is graded as follows:

Extra - stalks >12mm diameter, straight and good quality - expensive!

Handelsklasse I - stalks >10mm diameter, fairly stright although a little bend allowed - good value

Handelsklasse II - stalks >8mm diamter, less stringent shape requirements - economy!

How to Buy it

White Asparagus

Around 1/2 of the German crop is sold through roadside stands and farmers markets during the season. The Germans really go to town on eating it when it is fresh. The Netherlands, France and Spain also grow the vegetable in quantities and some of this product is canned whilst the rest is sold fresh. The Spanish are very proud of their crop where it is known as Esparrago. China also grows very large quantities of white asparagus for canning much of which is consumed on their domestic market.

If you want to buy fresh white asparagus in the UK or USA you will need to search it out or buy it imported online. Beware it can be very costly! If you want to try the canned variety you will get thin stalked jars if you look at the top of many supermarket shelves at simliar prices to green canned asparagus. However if you want to try the big jumbo stalked spears you will probably need to buy online and again prices can be steep.

How to Cook it and Eat it

The first thing to say about spargel is that it must be peeled. Once the outer layer is peeled away cook it as for green asparagus. The Germans typically eat fresh spargel with cooked or cured ham and new potatoes and often add a hollandaise sauce.

We have a few canned asparagus recipes and will be bringing you more recipes using this vegetable in due course.


Fancy Trying One of Our Favourite Recipes?

Asparagus Quiche

Quiche

Asparagus Soup

Soup

Asparagus & Smoked Salmon Appetizer

Appetizer

Hollandaise

Omelette

or visit our main

Recipe Page





2014 Season Asparagus



The easiest way to cook Asparagus!

All you need is a microwave a plastic Fish / Veg. Steamer and and our instructions.

Asparagus ready to cook in the microwave

Take look at some of our Interesting and Popular Pages


Blanching Asparagus
Blanching Asparagus

Wellies and Tools ready for the garden
Growing Asparagus

Asparagus on the Grill Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus Store at Festival Asparagus Festivals

If you want the

Basics of how to cook fresh asparagus

start by looking at How to Cook Asparagus first for some background information on a range of cooking methods.

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