Author: Patrick Wiltshire
Yes, green asparagus harvested freshly from the vegetable plot is simply wonderful – so claim many a kitchen-savvy and green-fingered home-grower.
We agree- steamed green asparagus with a helping of butter is a taste sensation. I'd go further though to say I believe white, or blanched, asparagus (simply green asparagus that has been denied of sunlight) tastes that little more special, just a hint nuttier in flavour complementing its creamy texture.
It’s not rocket science to produce white asparagus either. Asparagus Mondeo is a naturally green variety that lends itself well to blanching. Here are Marshalls’ top tips on achieving those white asparagus, superior in taste and texture.
Here are some general tips to ensure success.
- Mondeo is a great choice to blanch – it’s a strong and sturdy male variety that lends itself to effective blanching
- Give your plants three years first to establish before you think about blanching
- Allow some spears to grow into ferns to feed the following year’s emerging stems
Choose your preferred method of blanching
Use individual pots, ideal for growing one or two plants in isolation
A fantastic way of reusing pots that pile up over time on your plot. Pick an opaque, dark plastic tub or terracotta pot and place it upside down over asparagus tips as they emerge above ground level. Your pots need to be completely free of holes so not a single ray of light penetrates the spears – which would affect their ability to blanch.
Check the progress of your spears every two or three days at dusk or dawn and harvest the white spears when they are around 15cm (6 in) tall.
Use covering fabric, ideal for growing a small row of asparagus
Insert wire hoops around your asparagus patch and cover with a light-blocking fabric such as weed matting. Keep the fabric in place using pegs if need be but don’t be too keen to pin the fabric down as you’ll need to remove it to check the progress of your ever-whitening spears over the weeks.
Growing asparagus on a larger scale?
Use the surrounding soil and a wooden frame, ideal for growing asparagus on a larger scale
Keep light away from your growing spears simply by mounding the soil over them. Make a wooden frame out of 15cm (6in) wide wooden planks to create a framework that covers the area of your own asparagus patch. When you notice the tips of the spears emerging out of the soil, place the wooden frame in situ and fill it with extra soil to a depth of 15cm (6in). When you see them re-emerge out of the extra layer of soil carefully dig up the spears which you’ll notice to be white blushed with pink and yellow.
How did you get on?
Please leave a comment. Which do you prefer- green or white asparagus? What method of blanching did you get on best with?