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Spargel

Several years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to southern Germany. After we flew into Frankfurt, we spent the next several days driving down to Bavaria, seeing castles (and sleeping in one) and all the other sights. It was mid May and at virtually every farmhouse and in every restaurant window there was a homemade sign with one word on it: SPARGEL.

It took us a few days, but finally as we sat down for dinner one night in a tiny family restaurant in the walled town of Nordlingen, and we asked what Spargel was. To our surprise, we found it to be white asparagus. I had not only never had it before, but never even heard of it. The crop had been bursting through the ground and the country was celebrating this unique fresh vegetable. It was served simply, boiled and then served with a little butter.

It looks like asparagus, but does not taste much like it. It seems almost silly to say, but it seemed lighter than the green kind. For a number of years after, I looked for it in my local store but to no avail. This year, I was in luck.

Beautiful and tasty.

White asparagus is really pretty fragile.

Unlike the more common green asparagus, you need to peel the white ones. As they are so fragile, you have to be very careful. Gently pinching the tip between your thumb and forefinger and laying down your palm and forearm provides enough support that you should be able to peel it without breaking many.

Another way is to support with your index finger.

I normally abhor boiling your vegetables, but it works for these. 8 to 10 minutes in water that is just short of boiling.

Ok. Maybe I went a little overboard on the butter.

If you haven’t tried them, do yourself a favor and pick some up.

If you have an interest in being a guest blogger here on the Rantings of an Amateur Chef, contact me at rantingchef@yahoo.com.

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Categories: German, kosher, Low Carb, Recipes, Side Dish, Tips, vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

46 Comments on “Spargel”

  1. May 10, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    They really are the best! Served cold with a tarragon vinaigrette is marvelous too.

  2. May 10, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Or bernaise sauce! I had some in Marburg last week, deee-lish!

  3. May 10, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Farmers markets should be opening up about now. I’ll have to try to find some. I know I’ve not seen it in the stores. But maybe Whole Foods would be a good place to check.

  4. May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Hi Ranting,
    Good information. I am in the Fresh Produce Business and we handle this product during season. White Asparagus is becoming more widely available, however not in large enough quantities yet for it to become a Mass Marketed product. The best time to purchase White Asparagus is in the spring, say from February through April. You will be able to find it in the summer months as well, but the price will be higher. It’s grown year around, however not year around in the U.S. and some product can not be imported in to the U.S. from other producing countries. it derives it’s white color because it is blocked from sunlight, it’s essentially either grown indoors in the dark, like mushrooms or it’s covered in the fields with soil to keep the sunlight out.

    If you like White Asparagus, look for the purple. Yes there is a purple Asparagus as well, much more limited in availability though.

    Happy Travels

    • May 10, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Very informative, thank you. Would you be more likely to find these in specialty stores?

      • May 10, 2012 at 11:44 am #

        More and more conventional supermarkets are carrying this item you can find them in Safeway’s, Kroger’s, etc. And for sure in Whole Foods. However it will be a short “season” for them in the supermarkets. If you have a market you prefer, just ask the Produce Manager, they can special order it.

      • May 10, 2012 at 11:50 am #

        Thank you, appreciate the info. We have WholeFoods here.

  5. RichardB1001
    May 10, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I have had spargel and agree with your take on this great vegetable.

  6. May 10, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    The spargel sounds good. The trip sounds better!

  7. May 10, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    interesting….

  8. May 10, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Very interesting.

  9. May 10, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    I’ve never been able to find it either, until last week. Our local grocery store changed its fresh fruit and vege section around and put in a great deal of new and different things, including white asparagus. I love that you are teaching us so many new things about food and cooking!

  10. May 10, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    That looks ridiculously good!

  11. Agi's Farmhouse Kitchen
    May 10, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    My German mother always talked about white spargel too.The reason it’s white is it’s covered before it sees the sunlight, no chlorophyll therefore.

  12. May 10, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    very cool–thanks for sharing

  13. Juliet
    May 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Several years ago, my husband and I visited my brother in Kaiserslautern, Germany. My brother took us to his favorite restaurant there and introduced us to Spargel drizzled in hollandaise sauce. Oh, it was the food highlight of our visit to Germany. I see it occasionally in the grocery store, but I’ve never bought it. Hmm, I may have to see if I can find some. :0)

  14. May 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Love them but tend to overboil them. So best leave it to the experts :) Cheers!

  15. May 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    These look so interesting! I have never cooked with white asparagus, when I first saw this post, I thought you made noodles!

  16. May 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I love the green kind…now I need to find this white one!

  17. May 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Mmmm, white asparagus. I’ve had it with fresh potatoes, and thin ham, or with a herbed scrambled pancake called Kratzete. Some people like bearnaise on them, but I prefer butter ad toasted bread crumbs. Yum!

  18. May 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    In Northern Germany Spargel is also eaten with new potatoes, Hollandaise sauce and smoked/cured ham. The buttery variety is also popular, but we eat it with plenty of freshly chopped parsley on top.

  19. May 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I don’t blame you for over doing on the butter as the white asparagus is bitter.

  20. May 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Looks terrific. I have never had white asparagus and always wondered what they were like. Now I have to try them!

  21. May 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I live in Hamburg… I forget not everybody has asparagus white and/or green coming out the wazoo! I’ll be posting spargel soon!

  22. May 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Hello Pat – in Germany, France, Holland and other parts of Europe – “Spargel” – “asperge” or “aspersies” – traditionally refers to the “white” or “pink” variety which is grown in sandy mounds and harvested when their white or pink heads break the surface. Without those mounds, they emerge from the ground, grow in the sunlight, turn green and are more easily harvested. They are then called “green asparagus” as opposed to “asparagus” which is white or pink. The white or pink ones have a much more delicate flavour though many prefer the stronger firmer flavour of the green stalks. When it comes to cooking, I like to stand the stalks upright in a tall pot, a third filled with water, so that the thicker parts are boiled and the tops are steamed. When it comes to serving your fellow bloggers have given lots of suggestions which are all pretty yummy. I loved your buttery overindulgence. – By the way, if you can lay your hands on a bunch of freshly harvested real fat white stems, there is little else between earth and heaven comparatively sweet melting on your tongue.
    All the best.
    Colleen & Walter

  23. May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Great blog. I used to work in Michigan and they produce a lot of asparagus there, both white and green.

  24. May 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Great post – they are also widely eaten in Spain and I tend to pack my suitcases full of these to take back to the UK! Delicious in salads.

  25. missthirteenthirtyone
    May 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    White Asparagus is one of my favorites and I already had it 4 time in this season. I am from germany and my grandmother showed me how to cook it and maybe I have a little hint for you how to make it even more tasty: We are cooking it with a little bit of butter and one to two slices of lemon in the boiling water. And if you wanna store it in the fridge for one or two days before cooking it, you should wrap the Asparagus in a wet (linen) kitchentowl – it will stay more fresh than.

  26. May 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Ooooo, those look amazing. Do you know if your spargel were local? I wonder if they grow near me. . .

  27. May 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Looks good! Wish I could find it in CT.

    • May 11, 2012 at 4:22 am #

      Hi – they are seasonal and would be available from mid-September to mid-October on the CT city market and also at the bigger Fruit and Veg Stores. Grown in the Eastern Free State where they are processed – to be exported or canned – few batches ever reach our local markets. You will find the white asparagus every now and then on Woollie’s shelves but then they are imported from Kenya or Peru, mostly though those are of the green variety. It seems the local populace is not aware of this delicacy other than in its canned form or unable to afford the fresh ones with a kg price of around R 75. All the best. Walter

  28. May 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Coming from a German background, I love spargel too! Another way to peel it is to lay it flat on a cutting board. We also enjoy delicious spargelkremsuppe!

  29. May 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Simply beautiful, thank you. Have yet to try it myself but hope I can pick up some spears one day, will look out for them! Best wishes from Kiwiland :-)

  30. May 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    I am in love with asparagus, so this post was brilliant!! :) I’ve heard of white asparagus, but never tasted it – it sounds utterly delicious! Yum, yum, yum …

  31. May 11, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Yummy! Simple and delicious :)

  32. May 11, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Wow! That’s a lot of butter love, I practise butter worship here in our household too! White asparagus truly is a delicacy and something to be celebrated, yum…

  33. May 11, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    Sounds like a great trip, not sure about the Spargel though :)

  34. May 11, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    White asparagus is all over Provence. I’d never seen it before either until I moved here. I love it.

  35. May 11, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    while reading this my stomach growled. Looks delicious!!

  36. May 11, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    love that it is in season now. could eat it almost every day when… close by my city there are lots of white asparagus fields. yummy…

  37. May 12, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    My sister lives in Berlin, and when I went to visit last spring it was spargel season. We hunted it down everywhere and couldn’t get enough. Makes me want some now!

  38. May 12, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I love Spargel, reminds me of home!

  39. May 12, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    I have very fond memories of Spargelzeit in Germany. Wish we could get them here.

  40. May 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Had not heard of spargel before! Looks really yummy :)

  41. May 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    One of the best things in the world! I cannot wait to get home to Germany for the last two weeks of spargel season…:) Make you sure you pair the white asparagus with a German silvaner (white wine). Less acidic than the rieslings, and somehow these two – spargel and silvaner – form a symbiotic relationship!

    • May 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Oh, and I forgot: the traditional way of cooking it is with some lemon juice and sugar in water.

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