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What’s the Difference Between Green and White Asparagus?

In the United States, most people seek out tender green asparagus and very few pay attention to white asparagus. White asparagus, however, is just as popular as green asparagus in Europe. So, what’s the difference between the two and what are Americans missing out on? Let’s find out.

Growing Conditions

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Green and white asparagus differ mainly due to growing conditions. White asparagus is grown underground, whereas green asparagus is grown above the ground. White asparagus is fully covered with dirt and gets no sunlight, which means it can’t produce chlorophyll. Green asparagus, on the other hand, gets access to sunlight, which allows it to produce chlorophyll and turn green. 

What About The Taste?

Image Credit: Yvonne Huijbens from Pixabay

Both white and green asparagus differ in taste. Green asparagus is known for its grassy flavor, whereas white asparagus is slightly bitter and mild with a dash of sweetness. 

If you’re interested in nutrition then consider green asparagus as it is rich in vitamins B and C, calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, and folic acid. White asparagus contains antioxidants but it isn’t as healthy as its green alternative.

White Asparagus Versus Green Asparagus: Cooking

White asparagus is more fibrous and thicker than green, which requires it be peeled from the bottom. It must be simmered in saltwater before it can be used. Most recipes require white asparagus to be dipped in melted butter or hollandaise sauce. However, some chefs prefer it roasted or grilled, which is how green asparagus is typically consumed.

Green asparagus is easy and fast to prepare as it is quite thin; however, white asparagus needs a little more time to cook due to its thickness. It’s best to cook it until it’s tender. Green asparagus pairs well with lemon. Try our recipe for spring pasta with asparagus and peas.

You can also use both types of asparagus in salads. Fresh asparagus can be shaved and tossed with other leafy greens or it can be sauteed. If you are preparing a dish that calls for both white and green asparagus, make sure to cook them separately as the white asparagus requires a longer cooking time than green asparagus. . 

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