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What Is Purple Asparagus?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Purple asparagus is a variety of this common vegetable that is somewhat less well known than green or white asparagus. It actually does have a deep purple color, though the leaves at the top of the plant will often be a greenish color, and if it is peeled it will appear white. It is slightly sweeter than other varieties of asparagus because it contains more natural sugar, and it may also contain a bit less fiber, though it is still a very fibrous vegetable. Otherwise, purple asparagus is virtually identical to other types, and requires the same growing conditions and care.

There are specific instructions for growing purple asparagus to be found in books or online, but it tends to prefer quality, well-drained, fertilized soil. It is also one of the first veggies to appear in a spring garden as it is hardier and more tolerant of cold weather than other vegetables. Even people with a small garden plot may be able to grow asparagus, and it will generally provide vegetables for about two months each year: April to May in many areas, but this can vary in different areas of the world with differing weather patterns and growing seasons. Though the purple variety asparagus was first developed and grown in Italy, it is now relatively easy to find in many different countries around the world.

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It is identified by its colorful purple hue, though it will fade a bit when cooked. People who prefer to peel their purple asparagus will find that the inner layers are much lighter, often white, and that the upper leaf layers are green. It may be eaten raw, or prepared in a variety of ways just like white or green asparagus. Generally it is best to chop off the ends of the stems where the purple asparagus is thickest, as this portion will be tough and stringy. As a general rule, asparagus tastes best when it is about thumb-width or thinner; if it is thicker than this it will likely be pretty chewy.

Otherwise, it may be sauteed, steamed, roasted, or grilled, as well as cooked many other delicious ways. Some people will use it in soups too, either blended or cut into pieces, which will add flavor and texture. Purple asparagus is the sweetest of the asparagus varieties, and is loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and fiber. People who want the most fiber from asparagus, however, should stick with green or white varieties. Many people will mix the different varieties together for a distinctively colorful and nutritious dish.

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