Germany’s king of vegetables is always available for purchase for a few days after 24th, but farmers stop harvesting white asparagus around this time in order to let spears reach the surface of the soil in order that they can turn sunlight into energy for their roots. And there are of course people who buy and eat it past Johannistag, too, but I rather like the idea of there being an official last day. Presumably because I’m now more German than I am British.
I had a visitor from London for the whole of the weekend, my friend Alan, a chef and cookbook author who was visiting Germany for the first time. (And because I think it’s a valuable addition to any cookbook collection, I shall take this opportunity to plug his excellent book of one pot recipes.) It seemed like the perfect occasion to treat him to his very first German white asparagus whilst simultaneously celebrating the season’s last, so I picked up rather a generous quantity from the market, and we cooked it for dinner on Friday night.
I put Alan to work on peeling all 1.5kg of the stuff whilst I washed and cooked potatoes and artfully arranged two different kinds of ham on our plates (plain cooked, and dry-cured smoked). We simmered the spears in stock made from the peel (as per my usual recipe), then ate them with butter, the ham, and some waxy new potatoes, a glass of very good Silvaner alongside. A classic way to end this year’s white asparagus season, and the way I like it best.
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