Look for this special springtime delicacy now and enjoy it while you can.
white asparagus
Credit: picture alliance/Getty Images

White asparagus spears look just like a colorless version of the green ones—in fact, they're the very same variety of plant. So what is the difference between the two?

Unlike their green counterparts, white asparagus are pale from end to tip because they are grown underground. Farmers cover the stalks in soil to hide them from sunlight and prevent them from producing chlorophyll, which is how they turn green.

Watch: How to Make Asparagus, Zucchini, and Carrot Ribbon Salad

Flavor-wise, there isn't a huge difference between the two types of asparagus. Some say that the white spears have a milder, more delicate flavor, while others can't tell the difference. The most important thing to know when buying white asparagus is that the spears have tough, bitter skins that need to be peeled before they are eaten. Trim the woody ends, and use a vegetable peeler to remove the bottom two-thirds of each spear, then prepare the asparagus as desired.

If you've never seen white asparagus at the grocery store, you're not alone. Unlike green asparagus, which you can find at the supermarket nearly year-round, white asparagus season is short, typically from April to June. The best place to look for it is your local farmers' market.

Because it has such a subtle flavor and unique color, white asparagus is best enjoyed as simply as possible. Blanch the spears and serve them with a creamy dipping sauce like a hollandaise or remoulade for an elegant appetizer. Or keep the asparagus raw and use it in a slaw or salad. Thin strips of white and green asparagus make an especially pretty presentation.