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 plant variety. This specialized asparagus is a German delicacy with its own seasonal celebration known as Spargelzeit or "asparagus time."

White asparagus is a low-calorie food rich in nutrients that grows in mounds of loose, sandy soil. It can take about three years to grow before harvesting. With a unique flavor profile and growing environment, you might ask what precisely the difference is between green and white asparagus. Read more to learn about this fascinating vegetable. 

cooked white asparagus with sauce
Emily Laurae / Southern Living

Differences Between Green And White Asparagus

Flavor-wise, there is a slight difference between the two types of asparagus. Some say the white spears have a milder, more delicate flavor with just a hint of bitterness, while others can't tell the 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 the soil to hide them from sunlight and prevent them from producing chlorophyll, which causes stalks to turn green.

Should You Peel White Asparagus?

The most important thing to know when buying white asparagus is that the spears have tough. You must peel these bitter skins before eating the white asparagus. Trim the woody ends, and use a vegetable peeler to remove the bottom third of each spear, then prepare the asparagus as desired.

When Is White Asparagus In Season?

You're not alone if you've never seen white asparagus at the grocery store. 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.

Additionally, since white asparagus season is shorter, it is typically more expensive than its green counterparts. The specialized growing process also contributes to a higher price.

How Do You Cook White Asparagus?

Enjoy white asparagus by preparing it as simply as possible because of its subtle flavor and unique color. 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 a stunning presentation.

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