Bis Johanni – nicht vergessen – sieben Wochen Spargel essen!
The Asparagus season in Germany starts towards the end of April and ends on the 24th of June (St. John the Baptist Day)
Most Germans eagerly await Spargelzeit and the Germans eat around 125 000 tonnes of asparagus each season. It is very important to them to buy only German-grown asparagus.
Harvesting asparagus is very labour-intensive, and is mostly done by seasonal workers.
Traditionally it is served as a very simple dish, with boiled potatoes, ham and hollandaise sauce
White and green asparagus are basically the same vegetable. White asparagus is grown under mulch and dark plastic, so it gets very little sunshine and no photosynthesis.
This creates a more delicate flavour and the stalks are thicker than the green variety, and thus the skin tends to be tougher. You will therefore need to peel it.
Green asparagus is grown in the usual way, above the ground
Stalks should be firm to the touch.
Pay attention to the tips (buds). They should be firm and tightly closed. Dry or yellow tips indicate that it is old. Also, avoid mushy tips.
Purple tips – The colouration happens during a short period when the tip breaks through the soil, catches some sunlight and turns purple as a result, just before its harvest.
You can buy asparagus at farmer’s markets, Greengrocers, small stalls along the road or in normal grocery shops.
Some of the small stalls will also sell strawberries, as these are also in season.
Asparagus tastes best when cooked on the day you buy it. If you are not going to prepare them on the same day, you could store them in a shallow airtight container in the fridge.
You can also store them in the fridge by wrapping them tightly in foil or plastic wrap. They should last 3 – 5 days like that.
Others suggest storing them standing up in a glass jar with some water inside (around 2.5 cm – enough to cover the ends). Then loosely cover it with a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for about a week.
Get rid of the woody ends. You can either cut them off or break them off. The following video explains how to prepare and cook asparagus.
The green variety usually doesn’t need peeling. The white variety must be peeled. You can buy a special Asparagus peeler (Spargeschäler) for that. Here is an example of such a peeler on Amazon
Some bigger shops will peel them for you.
The most classic way to eat white asparagus in Germany is with boiled potatoes, Ham and hollandaise sauce.
Personally, I love baking them wrapped in foil in the oven (see how to do it here), they taste much better that way. You can also throw them on a braai if you like. A surprising ingredient in most recipes is a bit of sugar, whether you bake them in foil or cook them in water.
The 120 km long Asparagus road starts in the city of Schwetzingen. They claim to be the “Asparagus Capital of the World” and hold an annual Spargelfest.
The route then passes through Karlsruhe, Bruchsal and ends in Rastatt which has the biggest asparagus farm in Europe. Many towns/regions crown an annual asparagus queen (Spargelköningin) who reigns over the festivities.
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