The idea is to keep the spears from turning green. Cut them off well
below the soil level just as they start to break through. The white
spears are very tender and tasty. They can be sauteed lightly in a pan
with butter, or eaten raw just like a piece of celery. Wonderful texture
and flavour. White asparagus is (or was) a delicacy of the region of
southern Germany along the Rhine.
I notice that you guys say "cut" the spears. We don't cut - we were taught
to "break" them off and that would happen automatically at the correct point
so the plants wouldn't be damaged. How do you determine the correct point
when the are hilled up ? And how high should you mound up ?. I need to know
more because all the spears from a given plant don't pop up at once - so
when and how much ? What happens to the slower spears if the hilling is
done based on the first spear ? We cover them with a few inches in the fall
after growing season. Do they do that in Europe ?
I never raised asparagus but I have taken it from wild plants.
Here's an article I found about white asparagus.
White is common in most of Germany-maybe there are some folks from the old
country in your area you could ask.
Good questions. I don't know about the correct method being either 'cut'
or 'twist'. I have always cut them.
While stationed in Germany in the late 1960s, we lived on the economy
(ie: not in base married quarters). Our landlord grew white asparagus
for market. In their garden, the rows were about four feet apart and
each row was mounded about 18 inches high with the soil laying at the
angle of repose. The mounds were smoothed on top and sides using a
cement type trowel. Picking would occur twice a day - morning and late
afternoon. They would walk the rows looking for cracks in the smoothed
soil which indicated a spear about to break through. To cut the spears
they used a cutting blade that was shaped like an inverted 'V' about 2
inches wide at the cutter and with a tang about 10 inches long. They
would slip the cutter down the side of the spear and cut it about 6 or 8
inches below the soil level. After removing the stalk, the mound was
then smoothed over in that spot.
Once the beds are established they are left mounded year round. As I
recall, the stalks that were left to grow after the asparagus season was
over were cut off slightly below mound level in late fall.
I can recall that in England, they would blanch celery so that it would be
white, it wasn't done with soil but a black wrapper placed around each plant
so that it would not turn green on the stems. When my parents immigrated in
the late 40s, they were disappointed that here in North America the growers
allowed the celery stems to become green.
I stacked dried leaves about 8 to 10 ins.high on some of my plants
this year and have been cutting white asparagus for a couple of
weeks now.I think that the idea is to not let the spears be exposed
to sunlight,just like hilling potatoes. It is a lot less labor.
Monty in Michigan
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