California asparagus is a power vegetable we love this time of year. Our state is one of the nation’s largest asparagus producers, producing nearly half the annual crop. California farmers deliberately produce extra-long spears so there are more edible parts. You can simply cut off the end and prepare the asparagus. Use the leftover stalk by cooking and pureeing it to put in stock, soups, and sauces.
Did you know that white asparagus and green asparagus come from the same plant? Green asparagus gets its color from sunlight. When the plant breaks through the ground, the sun hits it, turning it green. For white asparagus, dirt is piled over the stalks so they mature underground and aren’t touched by sunlight. When the tips break through the surface, the stalks are cut with a special knife beneath the ground.
Despite coming from the same plant, green and white asparagus vary in nutritional value. Green asparagus tends to have higher levels of nutrients, such as protein, ascorbic acid, calcium, thiamin and niacin, and more antioxidant content than white asparagus.
If you watch closely, you can actually see asparagus grow! In warm weather (around 90 degrees), asparagus can grow up to seven inches in a single day. Asparagus beds are cut daily, and the harvesting period lasts around 70 to 80 days.