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Asparagus ... can you taste the color difference?

Be it green, white or purple I can't seem to really taste the difference when it comes to the different varieties of asparagus.

(I'm told there is also a pink asparagus which I have not seen, nor tasted before -- at least not knowingly.)

I've tried them raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, cooked to fork tender, and it really doesn't seem to matter. They all taste the same.

Don't get me wrong. I adore asparagus in all of its permutations. I just can't detect a difference in taste between the different color varieties.

I am told that white asparagus has a milder flavor than its green counterpart and that the purple variety is sweeter. True?

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  1. I'm with ya, ipse. I could eat the stuff three times a week but I can' t taste the difference either. It boggled my mind to watch folks in Germany pay 17 or 18 euro for a plate of steamed fat white asparagus in beurre blanc, and slice it with such care and absolutely roll their eyes back in their heads with pleasure as they ate it! :) Ah well! To each his own.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LauraGrace

      I find there is a significant difference between the taste of fine green English asparagus and the fat white stuff. And I don't get the attraction of the latter covered in sauce either.

      1. re: LauraGrace

        German white asparagus is also known as white gold. The flavor is unique, and you won't get anything even close to that outside Germany. So really, it's no wonder people outside of Germany wouldn't know or care for the difference.

        FWIW, I made the mistake of buying white asparagus in the US once. Blah. Basically flavorless. Never again, I take my German season, as short as it is, and dream of the white stalks the rest of the year.

        No need to drown quality asparagus in sauce either. A bit of drawn butter, some chopped fresh parsley, and served with German-style smoked ham and new potatoes. Heaven on a plate.

        Must be in my genes '-P

      2. It's too bad that you are one of the unfortunate people who are unable to appreciate the unique flavors of the green and white asparagus. Obviously as you point out many do pay a premium for the taste experience of white asparagus in Europe. Unfortunately asparagus of that quality is seldom available in Canada or Mexico. Trying to avoid being vulgar there is a chemical in asparagus which is present in the odor of the urine of the diner that is barely detected by 50% of people and strongly detected by half of that group. This may be related to the taste sensation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mexivilla

          Only detected by 50% of those who consume it ? Interesting.

          Explained --> http://www.chow.com/stories/10415

        2. yes, absolutely. green and purple have a pronounced bitterness (high chlorophyll content). white is mild and most exquisite.

          i like them all (any way it's cooked but never to a pulp).

          1. Well, I'm going to do a blind taste test this weekend.

            Got some green and white, now I just have to find a source for purple. But even without the latter I'm going to see if I can discern a taste difference between green and white blindfolded.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Be aware, if you are not already, that white asparagus is prepared differently than green or purple. It needs to be peeled, among other things. Read up first if you're not familiar with the prep differences.

              1. re: Karl S

                Yes, I know. But thanks for the tip anyhow.

            2. I have a sense that white is milder in flavour but as we never see it in the UK, I've never been able directly taste it against our usual green. I've never heard of the purple.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                I've never had white asparagus in Europe; the white I've had in the states has been stringy, with no flavor difference.