Jumbo White Asparagus is an entirely different vegetable from the traditional, skinny, green asparagus commonplace in the United States. Aside from its snowy color, this French variety is significantly larger, generally 16-22 mm in diameter, sweeter, more tender, and appropriately revered in European markets and kitchens. A sure sign of springtime, our late spring White Asparagus is harvested in Cambrai, northern France, where it grows in darkness beneath the soil until it is just about to emerge from the earth. Timing is critical, as excessive exposure to light will result in the formation of chlorophyll, which gives the vegetable a bitter taste reminiscent of traditional, skinny asparagus. If harvested too late, the white color will be overtaken by blushes of pink and purple, other symptoms of too much sunlight. Not only does this compromise the clarity of flavor, it also risks the White Asparagus being refused entry to the United States, which maintains extremely stringent importation requirements in an effort to protect domestic asparagus producers. In addition to this soil-grown White Asparagus from Provence, there is a significant amount of inferior White Asparagus grown in greenhouses elsewhere in Europe.
Once it has made its way to you, White Asparagus can be prepared more gently than you would traditional asparagus. In France, it is traditionally served lightly blanched, with Béarnaise. It is absolutely delicious when sliced razor thin and tossed with fruit-forward extra virgin olive oil and a touch of flaky salt. Alternatively, lightly boiling or steaming can soften the texture just enough to more easily incorporate it into a wide variety of dishes. Finally, an indulgent marriage of flavors can be coaxed out through a Confit preparation, which we've detailed below.
In addition to French cuisine, look to southern German recipes to find more appreciation for White Asparagus.
Offered in 1lb bunches
Cambrai, Northern France
Recipe for Confit White Asparagus