German White Asparagus Season, and the mania that surrounds it, can be a bit confusing for anyone who grew up in America. It’s a vegetable… who gets excited about vegetables? I can still remember the first time I was taken to a specialty restaurant during German White Asparagus season. There was concern, because the Season was ending in just a few days. Would the Asparagus still be good? Would it be woody? Weren’t we cutting it a little close? All I could think was “What’s the big deal? It’s just asparagus…” And then the plate was put in front of me. White asparagus, cooked to perfection (not too soft… just enough bite), swimming in a pool of melted butter. Next to it, a serving of Salz-Kartoffeln (boiled potatoes) and Westfalischen Schinken (Westphalian Ham).
All of this lovely food, simple as it was, tasted AMAZING. And I was HOOKED!
Let me explain a bit about White Asparagus. And I also have a recommendation for where you can enjoy this “King of Vegetables”
German White Asparagus Season
“Kirschen Rot, Spargel Tot”
(when the cherries are red, asparagus is dead)
-an old Farmer’s Expression
White Asparagus season is very short. It begins mid April and ends with a BANG on June 24th (St John’s Day). The vegetable itself has been cultivated since the ancient times in Egypt, Greece and Rome. Asparagus gained popularity in Germany during the 15th century where it was planted near Stuttgart in Baden-Wurttemberg for the courts. And if it’s good enough for royalty… then everyone wants it.
Since Asparagus is actually high in nutrients and low in calories, it’s quite a healthy vegetable to add to your diet (of course, the calories from the butter and hollandaise that you pour over your asparagus don’t really count…)
How Does White Asparagus Stay White?
White and Green Asparagus are basically the same vegetable, with identical nutritional value, and some say the same flavor (although saying things like that HAS been known to provoke fist fights). White Asparagus is grown under mulch and dark plastic, so it’s never exposed to light. No light, no photosynthesis. (There’s even a fancy word for it…etoliation). Chefs and white asparagus devotees claim that the lack of green gives the asparagus a more delicate flavor. And I think I would agree.
See how they grow Asparagus in Germany
Cooking White Asparagus
White asparagus tends to be thicker, and has a tougher slightly bitter skin. Before cooking, peel the bottom 2/3 of each stalk to get rid of it (you can use the peels to make stock…). Generally white asparagus is boiled in salted water. I’ve heard you can grill it, but that’s something I haven’t tried yet.
Celebrate German White Asparagus Season at Spargelhof Austerschulte in Lüdinghausen!
Edit for 2021- According to the website, their store is open to purchase Asparagus, but the restaurant is closed due to Corona Virus.
A few years ago, my uncle’s family turned the family farm in Lüdinghausen into an Asparagus Hof! My parents were able to visit during the season… and reported back that a meal at Spargelhof Austerschulte was well worth the trip.
The buffet has everything you could want for that perfect White Asparagus meal. Potatoes, Schinken, Schnitzel, Salads, Sauces… and of course, LOTS and LOTS of Asparagus that is grown there on the farm.
Naturally there is a bar…
Eat inside the tent, or outside at one of the many white tablecloth covered tables.
And, if there is still room, you can follow up that delicious food with dessert…
See the website, and make plans to visit HERE–> Spargelhof Austerschulte
Can’t Make it to Lüdinghausen for German White Asparagus Season? Here are some Recipe Books…
Or You can Buy Spargel Soup Soup