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Albenga Purple Asparagus

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Violetto d’Albenga Asparagus is a most unique variety produced in the province of Savona. It has its distinctive intense purple colour, which gradually fades toward the roots – it’s linked to the very genetic heritage of this plant and not to cultivation techniques.

There already used to be traces of this herbaceous plant in ancient Mesopotamia. The name was chosen by the Greeks (“Asparagos”), while the Romans massively contributed to its dissemination throughout Europe. It became extremely popular only when, by total chance, the Sun King – Louis XIV of France – seemed to like it a real lot.

The alluvial soils of the Piana di Albenga are perfect for its cultivation, thanks to the deep sandy and silty layers, and the ideal climate. Although it was extensively grown on more than 740 acres in the 1930s, it’s now almost totally neglected. At some point, farmers turned to more profitable crops with a shorter production cycle, therefore this very vegetable risked its extinction, despite being worldwide appreciated.

The current variety was born in the seventeenth century, but constantly refined and deprived of undesired genetic characteristics, such as a small diameter and the bitter taste.
The cultivation is completely done by hand and the harvest takes place from mid-March to early June. Unfortunately, that’s the time when market stalls are already full of “competitors”, therefore farmers have devised ways to harvest and distribute this type of Asparagus a little earlier. In the past, they heated the soil with soaked cotton mill waste, while today hot water pipes in the ground are a more common practice.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

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