Question: When and How Long is Asparagus Season?

Here at Eat Like No One Else, we are all about eating seasonally. I encourage people to eat food when it’s in season and eat it often. With modern transportation and refrigeration we can enjoy many things year round that we never would have before. There are some things that I buy year round even if the area I live in can’t currently grow them. But I try to enjoy my local harvest as much as possible. One of those crops I really want people to enjoy seasonally and locally is asparagus. To do so you have to know when and how long the season lasts. I have a list by state. In general asparagus is best purchased during the early to mid spring.

State Season
California February to April
Michigan May to June

February is the earliest you are going to find U.S. grown asparagus in stores. But it all depends on the year and the cost of imported asparagus. In 2013, California asparagus starting showing in produce sections here in Michigan in mid March. Shortly before that the asparagus was coming from Mexico. Most of the year the asparagus you find in grocery stores is from Peru. That’s a long way to ship a veggie that confirms it’s sugars to fiber as soon as it’s cut. Imported asparagus comes with a higher price tag especially in the winter months and less flavor. Find a farmer’s market/local source for your asparagus and enjoy while the enjoying is good!

How Long Do I Have to Enjoy Asparagus?
So when your local asparagus season begins how long do you have? It all depends on the climate. Some areas might get 8-12 weeks worth, some more like 4-6 weeks. It depends on temperature extremes. If you are in an area that heats up quickly, like in the Midwest than the season will be shorter than say in an area of California that maintains temperature for an extended period in the late winter to early spring. The best answer you can get to this question is to ask a local asparagus farmer as it varies from year to year.

What About White Asparagus?
White asparagus is just asparagus that has been deprived of light. It has no chlorophyll giving it a bitter taste. Nearly all white asparagus is imported from places like Peru. California no longer grows it commercially. It will be available sporadically throughout the year whenever imported prices are good.

What About Purple Asparagus?
Purple asparagus is available around the same time as the standard U.S. grown green varieties. I don’t find a lot of imported purple, more white is imported. I have had several people coming to the site when searching for whether purple asparagus is a GMO (genetically modified organism). I think people are beginning to worry that if a vegetable is a different color than they are use to that it might be a GMO. After doing a bit of searching around the web, I couldn’t find much on asparagus being a GMO, so I believe it to be a low risk. Purple varieties of veggies have been around for a long time, they are just now becoming more popular.

Check out my favorite asparagus recipe: Alton Brown’s Roasted Asparagus.

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