Eat the rainbow they say, but there is one color we often forget about: white. Naturally, when we think of white food most of us tend to relate it to ‘scary’ carbs, like white potatoes, rice, white bread and an endless range of white refined flour products.
But white foods need not be bad. Just think of garbanzo beans that are full of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, plus are a good source of protein or garlic that is linked to reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
And there’s more. Commonly found colourful foods have lesser-known white versions that obtain their milky hue for many different reasons. Some have been specially cultivated for their white colour, others are heritage varieties, and for some, like white caviar, obtain their white colour thanks to rare albino fish.
From vegetables and fruits to caviar, here’s a list of lesser known white foods for the curious foodie.
6 Unusual Albino and White Foods
1. White eggplant
White eggplants are a variety of regular purple eggplant, belonging to the nightshade family along with tomatoes and peppers. They are slightly curved and oblong in shape, with a creamy white flesh speckled with edible white seeds.
White eggplant lacks any of the bitterness that is sometimes found in its purple cousin. It is mild with a light sweet flavour and can be cooked just like a regular eggplant.
2. Albino white beetroot
These beetroots are white all throughout and don’t have the earthy taste that the red counterparts are known for. White beets often go by the names Sugar beets or Albino beets and have a sweet, tender taste.
In fact, white beets contain up to 8% in sugar and are often used to make beet sugar. If you can find them at the markets, try it in baking to add extra moisture and sweetness to your cakes by replacing some of the quantity of other added sugars.
3. White carrot
Carrots are always associated with the colour orange, but the original carrots were actually purple. From purple carrots, white, red, yellow and orange varieties were cultivated.
These carrots are white inside as well as out and are sweet and mild in flavour. They also make a great natural sweetener in a variety of dishes without parting a particular colour. It can be cooked or eaten raw just like your regular carrot.
4. White strawberries
We’ve spoken about these before: Japan’s white strawberries. Carefully cultivated by limiting the plants’ exposure to light, white strawberries have a juicy white flesh on the inside and bright red seeds on the outside.
They taste just like regular strawberries, but with a price tag that can go over $10 a pop, they’re more of a luxury fruit item reserved for special occasions.
5. White asparagus
White asparagus, of course, is a popular ingredient at many restaurants and perhaps the most well-known white food in this list. White asparagus is simply asparagus that is grown underground. As asparagus spears start to grow, a mound of dirt is placed on top and covered with black plastic to prevent the asparagus’ exposure to the sun’s rays. This way it doesn't produce chlorophyll which is the chemical that creates the green colour in asparagus.
6. White caviar
Lastly, there is the very rare, very expensive, very precious white caviar that comes from an albino sturgeon. Albino sturgeons are a rarity in the wild, occurring to a small percentage of sturgeons due to a genetic disorder that inhibits the production of melanin.
This is a delicacy to be enjoyed by just a few, as it can run up to tens of thousands of dollars a kilo - almost three times the price of black beluga sturgeon caviar.