White asparagus, also known as blanched or "gourmet" asparagus is a delicious variation on the traditional asparagus plant. The name "white asparagus" is derived from the pure white color of the harvested spears, which is achieved through a blanching process. The blanching process is accomplished by the mounding of soil over the plants in the early spring. This covering of soil allows the asparagus plants to grow without exposure to light; preventing the development of Chlorophyll, which does not occur in the dark.
When the tip of the asparagus peeks through the soil, it can be cut by the insertion of a sharp object at the base ofthe mound, which will serve to sever the spear. The plant may then be pulled from the molded soil.
The soil should be mounded over the asparagus in the spring, before the spears emerge. The mounds should be leveled when the harvest season is over, and the ferns allowed to develop.
The asparagus produced by this technique are almost perfectly smooth and rounded at the tip, with no bract development visible. These "gourmet" spears are thicker, more tender and have a more subtle flavor then Asparagus.
Long Island Gardening January, 1987 "White Asparagus" by Dr. Darlene Wilcox-Lee Cornell Horticulture Research lab