Die Spargelzeit (white asparagus season) is upon us once again! If you're from Germany or certain other areas of Europe, or have spent time there like me, then you know what a big deal the white asparagus harvest time is. From the direct-from-farm roadside stands to supermarkets to restaurants, the venerable "white gold" is practically unavoidable in Germany for a couple months about this time each year. To celebrate the Spargelzeit, Hollerbach's will be featuring a few German-style Spargel dishes on our menu for the next few weeks (see photos below), and fresh white asparagus to take home will also be available from our Magnolia Square Market German deli. Oh, and the blog Gnomes cobbled together a little Spargel FAQ for you. Because they do stuff like that.
What's the difference between green and white asparagus?
They're actually the same vegetable, but white asparagus is kept covered all the way until harvesting, so it is never exposed to sunlight and thus cannot develop the chlorophyll caused by photosynthesis that makes "regular" (as we would think of it in the USA) asparagus green.
So white asparagus must be more expensive to grow than green due to the additional labor - why then is it so much more popular than green asparagus in Germany?
Partly because white asparagus is generally considered to be more tender, lighter and less bitter than green, and the stalks are usually larger, and partly because of tradition and nostalgia - if you grew up experiencing the glory of the Spargelzeit with your family every year, you can't imagine why anyone would prefer the green variety!
How much Spargel is harvested every year in Germany?
Around 130 metric tons, roughly half of which is sold at roadside stands or markets.
When exactly is the Spargel season in Germany?
The beginning of the Spargelzeit varies a little - depending on what the previous winter was like, it begins somewhere in mid-to-late April, but always officially ends on Johanni (St. John's Day) June 24th.
What special dishes are you offering during Spargelfest at Hollerbach's?
Daily through at least mid-May, we will have Chef Pat's Spargelcrémesuppe (white asparagus cream soup), Spargel mit Lachs (white asparagus w/Hollandaise, boiled potatoes, and oven-roasted filet of salmon), and Spargel mit Schnitzel (white asparagus w/Hollandaise, boiled potatoes, and Schnitzel, our Haus Specialty!)
Did you know...
In 2017, Theo Hollerbach made his dream come true of bringing his childhood memories of the German Spargelzeit to Florida by importing 600 pounds of fresh white asparagus directly from the Spargelhof Schulze farm in Weisenheim, Germany, which was served at our Springfest party less than 48 hours after being picked - something that had never been done before!