Aah asparagus! Once they are available, we go crazy. If it is possible, I ate them daily, but unfortunately, we always have to wait until …
The asparagus season runs in Belgium from the end of April to the end of June, depending on the weather conditions in the previous months. In other (warmer) countries it’s from February to April. Two months is relatively short, but on the other hand that makes eating asparagus more attractive. If you have to be patient it’s more satisfying, right?
What is asparagus?
Asparagus is the young sprout of the asparagus plant. They are grown as vegetables and are available as white, green and (more exceptionally) purple asparagus.
The difference lies in the fact that white asparagus is protected from sunlight. If they come into contact with it, they color green or (in a single case) blue/purple. The latter is, therefore, more of a niche product. There is not much difference in taste between green and purple asparagus.
White asparagus is the most popular in northwestern Europe, while the green variety is more common in countries such as Italy. We just eat them both, although there is a slight preference for the ‘white gold’, that shows this classic: Asparagus a la Flamande.
The white color
The asparagus sprouts grow from the root of the plant. They are grown in so-called asparagus beds. These are accumulated strips of soil in which the sprouts can grow without coming into contact with sunlight so that it stays nice and white. The sprouts can be harvested in this way before it appears on the surface. Often the fields are also covered with plastic foil to heat the soil so that the plants grow faster and deliver more revenue. And so that the heads do not discolor.
Some asparagus has already come into contact with sunlight and will be light blue on the top. Although this does not imply detriment of the quality, they are sold cheaper.
Strange world 🙂
Harvesting asparagus is labor intensive
Some things you just know. That chicks come from an egg, for example, or that babies are brought by storks (apparently only flying at night). Everybody knows that!
Only … asparagus … where exactly do they come from? How does that white (and sometimes green) gold come into the world?
Only one way to find out; visiting an organic asparagus nursery and trying to unravel the mystery on the spot 🙂We made the video a few years ago, and it’s in Dutch. But I think when you scroll through the video you’ll get a good view how they grow, are harvested and made ready for production. Like comparing thicknesses for different price ranges.
The harvesting of asparagus is rather labor-intensive, in the sense that it has to be done manually. No machine is capable of harvesting asparagus without destroying it, so an asparagus field demands a lot of man/woman power. Asparagus is ‘extended’ with a particular knife, and the ground needs to be covered again for the following year.
Best way to cook asparagus
White asparagus has a very tough skin and a woody end. In contrast to the green asparagus, where you only have to cut off a piece of the ‘butt’, the white version must also be thoroughly peeled. If you don’t do that, fibrous threads will remain behind, and that makes it difficult to eat and cut.
Use a special asparagus peeler or a simple peeler for vegetables. The latter also works fine.
The cooking time of asparagus is on average between 8-10 minutes. Depending on the thickness.
Are you also a fan of asparagus? Let us know 🙂