Video: How to Grow, Harvest and Cook White Asparagus

Ever wondered what the difference is between white and green asparagus? It’s not hard to grow or cook white asparagus, but it does take a lot of dedication.  This video demonstrates how to grow and burying the white asparagus to deprive the spears of light and ultimately color, so it doesn’t turn green.

In Sonoma County wine country, white asparagus season typically begins in March, but it can happen as early as January in warm winter years. (El Niño years, characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator, often cause early winter harvests in our garden.)

Buried White Asparagus from Jordan Winery Garden

How to Grow White Asparagus

Because all asparagus will turn green if it’s exposed to sun, white asparagus must be buried in soil every day to keep it from receiving sunlight. Each morning, our gardener or sous chef will go to the white asparagus beds and form tiny mounds of dirt over the white asparagus spear tips. They look like tall, steep ant hills.

White Asparagus with Dungeness Crab and Spring Peas

How to Cook White Asparagus

After two weeks of burying white asparagus spears, the white asparagus is ready to be unburied, harvested near the base and taken up the hill to our winery kitchen, where the white asparagus is peeled. We recommend tying the spears with string (both efficient and protective, as white asparagus is more brittle than green) before boiling to protect the vegetable from damage. Cook white asparagus at a low boil until tender, about six minutes, and blanch in an ice bath to arrest the cooking. Chilled white asparagus can be served with a number of different sauces, such as aioli, or simply drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon with salt and pepper.

Looking for a white asparagus recipe? Try my Hanger Steak and Asparagus Salad.

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Growing up in Hawaii, Todd Knoll developed a strong connection to the land and the ocean at an early age. As executive chef at Jordan Winery, he grows hundreds of heirloom vegetables, fruits and herbs, cooks hors d’oeuvres and meals for guests, makes olive oil, and tends to the estate’s honeybees and chickens. A visual artist at heart, Chef Knoll spends his free time with his son and wife, Nitsa Knoll, exploring the diverse terrain of Sonoma County with camera and pencil in hand, capturing moments in nature to inspire his next recipe.

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