By Vanessa Greaves
January 03, 2017

Even though it's still wintertime, social media's food fanatics are going wild over something they even can't get their hands on until spring. It's white asparagus, and you're going to want to keep your eyes peeled for these spooky looking spears. They're not easy to find, their season is short, and they can command a pretty penny. But if you're in the market for specialty vegetables with major wow factor, they're well worth the hunt. Here's what makes white asparagus so desirable, plus tips for how to prep and cook it.

White Asparagus
White Asparagus | Photo by Meredith

What is white asparagus?

White asparagus is the same plant as green asparagus (asparagus offincinalis), but it's grown in conditions that block out all the light either by mounding up soil around the stalks or by growing the stalks under special plastic sheeting. No light means no chlorophyll production, and no chlorophyll production means no green color. Furthermore, to keep the white stalks white, they're harvested by hand at dawn. Can you say labor intensive? No wonder they're highly prized, especially in Germany, where white asaparagus (spargel) is honored with an annual festival (spargelzeit).

Where can I find it?

For fresh asparagus, start looking in farmers' markets and specialty groceries in the early spring. You can find jarred white asparagus on grocery shelves all year long, but that's not really what we're talking about here.

Is there a taste difference between white and green asparagus?

Aficionados of white asparagus say the spears have a more delicate flavor and softer texture than conventionally grown green asparagus.

Can I cook white and green asparagus the same way?

Yes, but you'll want to use a vegetable peeler to remove the bitter outer layer of the white asparagus before you cook it.

Roasted White Asparagus with Herbes de Provence
Roasted White Asparagus with Herbes de Provence | Photo by Buckwheat Queen

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