So many of the vegetables that we say are green, can actually be purple as well.
Peas. Artichokes. Kale. Cabbage. Brussels Sprouts.
All of these veggies come in purple, although the cabbage we call red for some reason.
Since it’s spring time which means asparagus season I want to talk about whether asparagus can be purple and how it differs from it’s green counterpart.
Let’s talk asparagus!
How is Purple Asparagus Different from Green Asparagus?
Asparagus comes in more than just green. There are white and purple asparagus. Today we are focusing on the purple variety. Is it any different than the traditional green?
The first time I purchased purple asparagus was from Whole Foods Market. This bunch happened to be locally grown here in Michigan. I have seen it many grocery stores since.
Purple Asparagus Taste
I have heard some people say that purple asparagus is sweeter than green. I have not fond that to be the case as of yet. I had both purple and green side by side, and maybe the purple was a little sweeter, but nothing really noticeable in my or my dinner guests’ opinion.
The actual flavor of the purple asparagus is the same as the green. I wasn’t able to detect any difference.
Is Purple Asparagus Better for You?
One thing that might be different is the health benefits. Dark colored fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals that may help the battle against cancer. While green asparagus is good for you, the purple might have a few advantages for our nutrition.
Does Purple Asparagus Change Green When Cooked?
I have grown purple bush beans before and every time I have cooked them, their purple color quickly vanishes.
My first thought was that the same thing would happen with the purple asparagus. But this only was part true. I roasted my asparagus (following this method) and while most of the purple color was lost you could tell which spears were purple.
What you will notice when you cut into purple asparagus is that the inferior looks the same as green asparagus. The purple color is only skin deep.
How to Preserve Color of Purple Asparagus During Cooking
Boiling purple asparagus will turn it a drab, unappealing color. However if you boil the purple asparagus for a minute or less you might able to save some of the color if you quickly throw it into a bowl of ice water. It still be pretty crisp but that might work to keep some of the color.
I haven’t experimented much with that. I have blanched snap peas several times and it gives them a vivid green color.
It’s not that the asparagus is changing color but the pigment that makes the purple color is sensitive to heat. When the heat hits the color fades leaving only the green, which makes you think it;s changing color.
Is Purple Asparagus Thicker?
I don’t want to say this is a rule but every time I have had or seen purple asparagus it has been pretty thick. Asparagus spears that are thicker tend to have more flavor but are not tougher at all.
I cut off the last couple inches of the purple asparagus, which is too tough to chew. I don’t throw it out. The ends can be used to make soup.
What Time of the Year Can You Buy Purple Asparagus?
Most of the year it can be pretty hard to find. I find it here in Michigan during fresh asparagus season, which is in May (learn more about when asparagus is in season). Mainly found at farmer’s markets and a few times I have seen it in the grocery store.
If you want you can grow purple asparagus yourself. You just need to order the crowns and find a good spot to plant them.