Apple and Grape harvests symbolize Autumn in Germany, and Spargelzeit, the two month white asparagus season, is an eagerly anticipated sign of spring. Picking up a flat trowel, he smoothes over evidence of his operation. She replicated her mother’s traditional recipe for boiled white asparagus accompanied with ham, parsley and boiled potatoes. In the UK, it is estimated that the asparagus harvest season can begin as early as mid-February and continue into late autumn by growing cold-resistant cultivars under heated polytunnels. When it's asparagus season in Germany, you can find it for sale in every market and roadside stands. It looks like backbreaking work, but Dominikowski thoroughly enjoys it. Over 2,200 German asparagus farmers grow almost exclusively white asparagus on 53,000 acres. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Altes Gasthaus Leve: Among the local favorites at this traditional German restaurant is a delicately flavored, silky cream-of-white-asparagus soup. Münster’s old town, almost completely destroyed in the Second World War, was rebuilt in its prewar style, and the buildings along the Prinzipalmarkt—tall, pale, and narrow with acutely angled roofs—look not unlike a row of white asparagus tips themselves. Autumn in Germany is Apple and Grape harvests; Spring first Barlauch, wild garlic, then it is the eagerly anticipated "Spargelzeit". He shakes his head. The crates are filled with cold water to keep the asparagus at peak freshness. Asparagus is a highly prized vegetable in Germany. Peelings are used to make a delicate, creamy soup; broken spears are added to stews. The shiny steel sorting machine is a veritable homage to the German love of systems and procedure; each spear is sliced to a uniform length before being computer-analyzed, classed, and spat out into one of 20 water troughs for manual collection and storage. With the hand on heart, Germans cannot live without asparagus (or spargel in German)! Great recipe for How to Cook White Asparagus - German Recipe. In the café, cheeses are served with beers from one of Münster’s craft breweries. I eat it grilled, served with poached quails’ eggs and dots of bright green moss mayonnaise. The day before, in the lively student city of Münster, I’d seen signs of the city’s culinary history everywhere, from plaques among the cobblestones marking the old salt trading route, to white asparagus carved into the stone facade of a private mansion. But it’s the potatoes and ham that I keep thinking about: it’s an old-fashioned dish, yet it doesn’t feel outdated. Calling all foodies: Germany's 'white gold' season is in full swing. Image: public domain. The younger evening crowd is open to a more creative menu, but we know what our regulars want.” I ask Lembeck if he’d put green asparagus on the menu. There’s the soup, garnished with chives. It contains Vitamins A, E, K, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and includes mostly water, 2% protein, 4% carbohydrates and only 0.2% fats. In the evening, they’ll have bread and soup. In ancient times, asparagus has been cherished for its delicate flavor and originally cultivated by ancient … Hafenkäserei: Down by Münster’s harbor, this organic dairy produces creatively flavoured Gouda and red smear cheeses using four-generation-old processes. In ancient times, asparagus has been cherished for its delicate flavor and originally cultivated by ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians. 1. Germans (and many Swiss and Austrian neighbors) are a jubilant bunch of eaters especially with the arrival of spargel—as the German’s call it—the ghostly-white stalk that heralds “spring is here!” It’s the first crop of the year to grace the dinner table, and after a long, gray winter this harbinger of summer elicits deep … I’ve eaten my fill, and it doesn’t interest me anymore.”. Tie white asparagus in bundles of about 6 spears each. May to June is Germany's white asparagus season! “Not at all,” Grothues admits, rather sheepishly, “It all tastes the same. I’m scouring the flat upper surface of the knee-high, gray-brown mound of soil for the tiny undulations that might indicate a spear of white asparagus trying to break through. Therefore, no photosynthesis occurs, keeping the stalks from turning green. In fact, an entire asparagus-eating etiquette has been developed for spargelzeit, or asparagus season.The vegetable is so revered, villages hold asparagus festivals and even crown an asparagus queen.White asparagus Brandt puts down two stainless steel sauce boats next to my plate. Hof Grothues-Potthoff: This quiet boutique hotel offers stylish, comfortable rooms, a small sauna, and friendly staff. The white asparagus of bands. All rights reserved. The raft of white asparagus—straight and meticulously aligned—shares the plate with waxy, yellow new potatoes and a crumpled heap of wafer-thin, dark pink Westphalian ham (a regional delicacy made from acorn-fed, forest-dwelling pigs; their meat is dry-cured and cold-smoked over beechwood). Ornate buildings in Münster town center feature white asparagus to represent the harvest. It requires precision planting and constant monitoring of the soil that’s heaped over the spears to prevent them being exposed to sunlight: if it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, dry or hard, the growth of the spears is affected. Depending on the weather, the season for asparagus begins some time in April and lasts until St. John the Baptist’s feast day June 24, and for those weeks the country is gripped by ‘Asparagus Fever’. The two month white asparagus season that, depending on the weather, begins some time in April and lasts until just after Summer Solstice, on St. John the Baptist’s feast day June 24.For those weeks it is a country gripped by "Asparagus Fever". With the first tips surfacing across some states, the season looks to have arrived early. As is the case at Hof Grothues-Potthoff, nothing here goes to waste. White asparagus is sold in the marketplace in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Münster. “Back in the ’50s we grew it ourselves, like most people, and we never went to market. Whereas green asparagus is available in the US year-round, (white) asparagus in Germany is very seasonal. Today, one of our culinary instructors, Sabine Vaughn, taught me how she grew up eating white asparagus in Germany. Adhering to the farmers’ rule: “when cherries are red, spargel is dead,” the season of harvesting and eating white asparagus (spargel) begins annually in mid-April and ends on June 24th, St. John day. Every April, he leaves his wife and job in Poznań, Poland, to work 10 hours a day, six days a week, until the official end of the season on June 24, the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist. Typically, the spears are cut off slightly below the earth’s surface to avoid damaging underground roots. Josef Horstmöller greets me at the end of the long, wooden bar, eyes twinkling, salt-and-pepper beard neatly groomed, and bow tie knotted meticulously beneath his chin. “It’s satisfying, and the money’s much better than repairing computers back home,” he says. It’s a short walk from the marketplace to Altes Gasthaus Leve, a traditional German restaurant that’s been in the same family for three generations. Isn’t it lucky, I think, that it tastes so good. I love white asparagus season here in Germany. I don’t have anything against asparagus in general. Germans are so obsessed with spargel (white asparagus) that there are Facebook groups and websites dedicated to the königliche Gemüse (royal vegetable). And like Elmar Grothues, Horstmöller fosters strong local relationships; he’s been buying his asparagus from the same farm for more than 20 years. Not just any asparagus, but white asparagus, the ‘vegetable of kings’, ‘edible ivory’, or ‘white gold’. It really does come in all shapes and sizes as shown below. It has to do with the deliberate harvesting process. It’s a short walk from the … By the end of the season, on June 26, approximately 55,000 tons of the vegetable will have been harvested. The event also triggers the obligatory annual Spargel media frenzy. Every good restaurant always sells a few white asparagus dishes. The straightest, smoothest, whitest spears with a tightly closed head command a far higher price than the broken or discolored ones. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/germany/munsterland-white-asparagus-food.html. The main type sold is the white one. TO produce white asparagus, soil is piled up into knee-high banks, which give the fields their characteristic appearance. Altes Gasthaus Leve serves a classic dish of white asparagus, air-dried ham, boiled potatoes, and butter sauce. Spargelsaison in Germany begins in April and ends abruptly on June 24 (Midsummer Day). The white asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) or Spargel as it is called here is by all accounts one of the most anticipated and exciting culinary highlight of the year. It … The fresh produce stands are currently dominated by baskets of jewel-red strawberries and stacks of bright white asparagus. It’s hard work made easier through modern technology and the support of a collaborative local network: Grothues uses manure donated by a pig farm; their asparagus waste goes to a dairy farm as cow fodder. The popular vegetable grows best in sandy soil and is culti… It takes three years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip. Münster town center is lined with gabled buildings, including the town hall and municipal wine house. Welcome the springtime with the first German spring vegetable. It is white asparagus season here at Eckert’s in Belleville and across the globe, in Germany. Asparagus, mountains of buttery, white asparagus. In the old days, it was planted exclusively for the royal and ducal Baden-Wurttemberg courts, that’s why spargel earned a nickname ‘royal vegetable’ and ‘white gold.’. Spargelzeit, or white asparagus season, officially begins in April, and harvesting finishes punctually on 24 June, the Christian celebration of the nativity of John the Baptist. He plunges two thickly gloved fingers into the soil, pushes it away to expose a single cream-colored spear, then slides his asparagus cutter down alongside it, perfectly parallel, and breaks it away from its root. Even with modern equipment, an acre of asparagus may only produce 2 tons of the vegetable per year – a v… I actually really like the first tender green asparagus of the season boiled and buttered. Spargel is on every menu and grocery store aisle during the spargelzeit spring asparagus season—the veggie is deliciously unavoidable. During this period, Germans consume approximately 70,000 tons of this elegant pale vegetable. Green and purple asparagus is available, but most only buy the white, claiming that it's the most flavorful. It’s all over in less than 30 seconds, and I’m left trying to work out how he knew anything was there. Heading out on the weekend into the countryside, often by bicycle—with a spectacularly flat landscape, it’s obvious why Münster is Germany’s cycling capital—they like to support local producers, and they want to know where their food comes from. A lot of care goes into harvesting and preparing white asparagus, or spargel, since it is, for the most part, harvested by hand in Germany. We’re talking about the German king of vegetables now that it’s white asparagus season. Depending on the weather, the season for asparagus begins some time in April and lasts until St. John the Baptist’s feast day June 24, and during this … During the high season, he tells me, his restaurant serves up to 220 pounds of white asparagus a week. To obtain the white, tender and somewhat sweet version of asparagus, farmers limit the plant’s light intake, burying it like a treasure under mounds of soil. Adhering to the farmers’ rule: “when cherries are red, spargel is dead,” the season of harvesting and eating white asparagus (spargel) begins annually in mid-April and ends on June 24th, St. John day. What makes a German’s heart sing with joy? 2. White asparagus season is celebrated with a passion in Germany. Long, thick spears of white asparagus grown under mounds of earth and served up with butter and ham. Peel outer layer of white asparagus, align spear tips and slice off ends of the white asparagus to form spears of equal length. White asparagus season is celebrated with a passion in Germany, and I’ve come to... From budding sprout to sumptuous stew. In Germany, Spargel is the term for asparagus, but it really is more commonly used to refer to the white variation which is so popular here. Many of Münster’s main sights are easily reachable by foot. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Many farms now open a restaurant in the harvest season, serving white asparagus dishes in the sunshine, right where it’s grown. Over the course of my three days here, I try white asparagus several ways. In 2017, many thousands of workers — mainly from Romania and Poland — cut some 129,600 tons of white asparagus in Germany during the short season. The hype about the coveted white vegetable starts up again in Germany at the end of April. Germany has the best spargel festivals ever, offering spargel queen and king awards, the fastest spargel peeler contests, many white asparagus dishes, and live music. I sit down at a small wooden table, where waitress and student Paulina Brandt, dressed in a traditional black and white uniform, brings my plate of white asparagus with a smile. Today, the market is still shunned by some locals—those who prefer to buy their white asparagus from the source. In Germany, white asparagus (weißer spargel) is celebrated (literally) with festivals from April to June. Certain regions of Germanany have very sandy soils that are particularly suited to the growing process and in these areas White Asparagus or Spargel is big business. For Germans the Spargelzeit, or the white asparagus season, is an eagerly anticipated sign of spring. White asparagus sold from the farm in Germany The German asparagus season is short, running from mid-April (depending on temperatures), until the … With a backdrop of wood-paneled walls and hand-painted tiles; a tall, flickering candle; and a glass of honey-colored Mosel Riesling, my lunch could be a Dutch Golden Age painting. White asparagus, or Spargel, is in season for the next three months and the next three months ONLY, you see, and when short-seasonal produce is in season, the German-speaking lands of Europe are Santa Cruz circa 1982 and the produce is the Grateful Dead. White asparagus is available for a relatively short period of time in the spring and early summer, starting in mid-April and continuing until around the third week of June. With a total value of 175 million euros, the slender stalks have become Germany’s most important cultivated product over the years. I tried to find out how to cook them so I can enjoy plenty of them when I am in Germany. Documentarily it is indicated that the roots of German asparagus were found somewhere around Stuttgart, where it has been raised since the 1500s. The annual production for white asparagus in Germany is 57,000 tonnes (61% of consumer demand). “Or they might order chicken stew. Asparagus is low in calories but significantly rich in nutrients and is considered to be exceptionally healthy food. Hof Grothues-Potthoff serves white asparagus with quail eggs. Asparagus Season in Germany. White asparagus, I’ve learned, represents what’s important to many people in Münsterland—a deep pride in their regional produce and respect for hard work, a love of quality ingredients prepared simply and without waste, and an appreciation for tradition. The city’s weekly market, a maze of trucks and stands shaded by colorful awnings, takes place in a large, leafy square by the cathedral. 3. Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot, season with fresh lemon, table salt and white sugar (to taste). But the idea that white asparagus are an improvement is strange. White asparagus grows entirely surrounded by earth, which protects the slender stalks from sunlight exposure and keeps them from turning green. Calling all foodies: Germany's 'white gold' season is in full swing The precise art of growing asparagus. During this period, Germans consume approximately 70,000 tons of this elegant pale vegetable. This is the best of the best local produce, prepared and cooked very simply, and I suddenly feel terribly spoiled. Standing next to me, Lukasz Dominikowski, armed with his asparagus cutter (a long, flat tool with a sharp, forked blade), has detected a ripple. While the green asparagus grows year-round, the white asparagus season only lasts 8 weeks, from April 22 to June 25. We just like it looking nicer on the plate.”. Pulling a bundle of roots from the soil—a cluster of earthy rats’ tails attached to a feathery green shoot—he explains the labor-intensive white-asparagus-growing process. The annual asparagus harvest is a source of great local pride, and I find only one vendor indifferent to it: “I grew up with two white asparagus addicts for parents,” she says. During Spargelzeit—’asparagus time’, which starts sometime in April but ends exactly on June 24th—Germans eat their way through 125,000 tonnes (138,000 tons) of the stuff, half of which is bought at roadside stands or in markets. The Netherlands, Spain, France, Switzerland and especially Germany are all big White Asparagus consumers. Along with cream blob and fresh chives, it’s one of the most popular dishes in the white asparagus season. Polish farmhands sort and process white asparagus at Hof Grothues Potthoff. May traditionally marks the delightful peak of the German asparagus season. It’s hardly surprising Dominikowski has an eye for spotting white asparagus: the 33-year-old has traveled to Hof Grothues-Potthoff, a farm estate with a bakery, farm shop, and hotel, in Senden, Germany—about 10 miles southwest of Münster—for the past eight years, to help harvest and sort up to a hundred tons of Germany’s white gold. The terraced restaurant serves an excellent breakfast as well as the farm’s own white asparagus in season. Some of Horstmöller’s customers have been eating at Leve for more than 50 years, and he and head chef Frank Lembeck, who’s emerged from the kitchen in his chef’s whites, know them well. Lukas, a Polish farmhand, harvests white asparagus at Hof Grothues Potthoff. White asparagus season is celebrated with a passion in Germany, and I’ve come to the flat, castle-filled region of Münsterland, with its maritime climate and sandy soil prime for the spring vegetable’s production, to find out why. Elmar Grothues, who with his siblings oversees a 14-generation-old family farm, takes me to a newly planted field. We arrive at the farmyard just as Dominikowski and his co-workers are hoisting crates containing the morning’s harvest off their truck and into a barn. “Out of habit, their main meal is lunch, perhaps white asparagus served the classic way, with ham and potatoes,” Lembeck explains. Seasonal farms: Both Hof Lütke Laxen and Spargelhof Hengemann are open to serve meals during harvest season. Oddly (or fortunately) this German speciality is not nearly as well-known as other famous German exports like beer, schnitzel and sausages. You can usually spot the first bundles white asparagus (Spargel) at German farmers’ markets in the middle of March, but at staggeringly high prices, since the season is yet to officially begin. Traditional German Creamy White Asparagus Soup makes a perfect starter for any meal! White asparagus is no different than regular asparagus, expect that it is grown underground in little mounds. By Marta May 8, 2018 When you want to know which white asparagus dish is the most popular in white asparagus season in Germany, that is the one: White Asparagus with Boiled Potatoes, Ham and Sauce Hollandaise. H4 Hotel Münster: This chain business hotel has bright modern rooms and is centrally located. German 'white gold' asparagus sprouts early Asparagus season has been known to put Germany into a spin. If you’ve never had white asparagus, it is exactly like green asparagus but without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). The annual harvesting of Germany’s “king of vegetables” begins in April and finishes on the 24 June, … If you think that spargel isn't worth a trip to Lower Saxony or, for example, the highly-mentioned Baden-Wurttemberg (two most famous asparagus growing regions), millions of Germans will strongly disagree with you. The soup is exceptionally delicious and has a very light taste. I ask why she likes white asparagus, and she gives the same answer I keep receiving: “It’s around for such a very short time and has such a fine taste, plus it’s full of vitamins, so it’s really very healthy.” I drown my spears in butter. The biggest fans make pilgrimages to the source. No other vegetable gets as much dedicated land as the “white gold.” A small asparagus production operation requires a minimum of 5 square acres of suitable soil for an asparagus crop. I looked at a German website like COOKPAD and German cookbooks. When grown under tunnels, growers can extend the harvest season. Just as apples are a sign of fall season, asparagus marks the beginning of spring. Germany’s white asparagus is grown entirely covered in soil that protects the slender stalks from sunlight and prevents them from turning green Asparagus is harvested using a special knife. One is filled with a bright yellow hollandaise so thick it wobbles, the other with a pool of glossy melted butter. I wonder if their appearance is a reflection of quality. Very simply, and I ’ ve come to... from budding sprout to sumptuous stew steel boats... Grothues admits, rather sheepishly, “It all tastes the same is on every menu and grocery aisle... 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