What Is White Asparagus?

This springtime delicacy gets its unique lack of coloring from a special growing method.

a white asparagus bundle on a white plate
Photo: Emily Laurae / Southern Living

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?

What Is the Difference Between Green and White Asparagus?

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 with just a hint of bitterness, while others can't tell a difference.

What Makes White Asparagus White?

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 what causes stalks to turn green.

cooked white asparagus with sauce
Emily Laurae / Southern Living

Should You Peel White Asparagus?

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 third of each spear, then prepare the asparagus as desired.

When Can You Get White Asparagus?

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.

How Do You Prepare White Asparagus?

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.

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