Spring is totally all over here in Germany!
Everyday, as I look at how the pretty magnolias and enchanting pink cascades of cherry blossoms brings a pink spectacle in our surroundings, this makes me love even more Spring! Even the tulips that I planted in our garden blossoms into bright fuschia and red bulbs, beside the rows of yellow daffodils making it super ‘Gezellig‘, and undeniably a cozy, warm & festive season! And yes, time for Germans to indulge in white Spargels! When I say indulge, imagine a consumption of whooping 125,000 tonnes per year!
It is true,that’s a whole LOT of Asparagus or locally known as Spargel!
Just as the Apple marks the Fall season and culinary delights for baked pies, Spring time here in Germany signals the start of Spargelzeit, or the season of White Asparagus!
Have you heard anything like this before? Well for me, I only knew of Green Asparagus! I’ve read that there’s a purple variety as well but white, it never really occurred to me! I have never seen or tasted a white asparagus in my entire life. Not until I’ve been here in Germany. If you’re wondering what’s the difference, very simple actually; the white variety grows entirely surrounded by earth. In turn, this protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and keeps it from turning green. This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Rich in nutrients and very low in calories, asparagus is a healthy and delicious food!
Remember my story about how Germans decorate their fountains with 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs? Germans as well, prefer this seasonal white delicacy that grows only during Spargelzeit, from April to July. Now nobody can really underestimate the Germans special affection to Easter, Spring festivals and their culinary calendar in each season. Especially here in my Bavarian town, Ostermarkt (Easter Market), Osterbrunnen (Easter fountain) and the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival) are all big celebrations . But the special culinary specialty for Spring is no doubt the white, long, slender stems of white Spargel (asparagus) .
Germany’s “king of vegetables” can be seen as early as middle of March but the official harvesting season of white spargel starts around April and ends until June 24. First time that I saw these white asparagus was in our local farmer’s market and since then, I saw these bunches more often as well in various supermarkets. Though prices might soar up high during the season, and many will sprout as cheap ones, they say that it’s still best to get the best grade asparagus since as for the Germans, it is always worth paying more for the ‘white gold’.
So how does the White Spargel taste?
White asparagus is much softer in texture and stringier than the green asparagus.It has more subtle and delicate flavour. It is traditionally served with melted butter and potatoes (Spargel mit Butter), with ham (Spargel mit Schinken) or with hollandaise sauce (Spargel mit holländischer Sauce).
I’ve found out more interesting facts about the White Spargel :
- It takes 3 (Three) long years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip.The soil is piled up in knee-high banks making its unique appearance.
- The states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony take special pride in being prime asparagus growing regions in Germany.
- Just like beer festival, there is also a “Spargelfest” ( Spargel festival) held where culinary experts showcase their fresh spargel dishes,peeling contest and even celebrating with the Asparagus Queen!
- There is an Asparagus Museum in Herten, North Rhein Westphalia, in Germany.The Vestisches Spargelmuseum is dedicated to this spring delight, owned by Ludger Südfeld. The exhibit display trace the entire cultivation process of this vegetable.
- According to the records from 2012 released by Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently, asparagus uses a fifth of the entire open land area for vegetables in Germany, making it the vegetable with the largest cultivation area in the country.
- The city of Schwetzingen claims to be the Asparagus capital of the World!
- During Spargelzeit, the average German enjoys the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day. This, in turn, adds up to a national total of over 70,000 tons per year!
Yes, would you believe that in this country known for its ordnungs, there is also Asparagus quality !
Germany has divided asparagus into strict quality classes, comparable to USDA Grade A, Choice, etc. The classes of “Spargel” are:
Extra – Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.
Handelsklasse I (HK I) – Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.
Handelsklasse II (HK II) – Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students.
Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever tried eating white Asparagus?Also, do you think eating Asparagus makes your urine smell?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!