It's Germany’s favorite time of the year – Spargelzeit! An official asparagus season has opened on April 12th and runs through June 24th.
Photo by: Waldemar Brandt, Unsplash
We put together a list of all-things-Spargel to spark your appetite for this delicate vegetable and enjoy while it’s in season.
Have you wondered why it is white? Farmers pile a thick mound of dirt over the white asparagus or cover it with black plastic to ensure that not a single ray of sunlight hits the spears, a process that is known as etiolation. Therefore, the white asparagus is not exposed to sunlight and doesn't produce chlorophyll.
Growing white asparagus is an intensive process that takes at least three years until the first harvest.
Asparágus officinalis L. is the edible shoot of the cultivated plant in the taxonomic family Asparagaceae with over 300 species. Crazy, but it is closely related to the Lily (Liliaceae)
Asparagus shoots can grow 5 to 7 cm per day in warm weather.
There’s an Asparagus Queen chosen every year in various regions of Germany. Here’s one from Beelitz, chosen last two years in a row.
German McDonald’s offers ‘Spargel Burger’ in the springtime.
Despite the fact that white asparagus is more loved, the green variety is richer in vitamins and is easier to cook, since you only have to cut the ends and not peel it meticulously like you do with the white.
Germany has divided asparagus into strict (but, of course!) quality classes, which (from thicker and most expensive to thinner and good-for soups and students) are Extra, Handelsklasse I (HK I) and Handelsklasse II (HK II).
Even though the classic recipe of asparagus with ham and boiled potatoes is quite easy to make at home, Berlin restaurants experiment every year and offer various Spargelmenü. We like seasonal deliveries from Laurbeer and Borchardt.
As asparagus grows well on the lean soil of Brandenburg region, the area south of Berlin is the perfect asparagus country with Beelitz as its unofficial capital.
Asparagus is purely hand-harvested. Mechanization has not worked because a broken asparagus shoot has very little value.
Select growers around Brandenburg specialize in environmentally friendly asparagus, but, unfortunately, not many are workers friendly. As a buzzkill, asparagus farms employ mostly seasonal workers from Romania and Poland, and now even from Georgia. The lucky ones receive minimum wage (€9.50/hour), while on some farms, the pay is dependent on the volume of the harvest.
If you are up for getting out of the city and buying fresh from a farmer, we suggest these Spargelhöfe around Brandenburg.
While we encourage you to enjoy Spargelzeit, please do so consciously, buy only in season and savor every bite!