Part 4: Winter Seasonal Produce Guide
With all the trees having shed their leaves and many plants dormant for the season, it may seem like winter is devoid of life — and seasonal fruits and vegetables. While the options certainly aren’t as plentiful as during the spring, summer or fall, you can still find a variety of produce available. Winter is also an ideal time for warm soups, stews and other comfort foods, and the season’s root vegetables and fruits provide the perfect ingredients.
As the seasons shift from fall to winter, here is a look at what you can find:
- In the Northeast: In the northernmost part of the country, cold temperatures and the frozen ground limit your selection — but parsnips and mushrooms are plentiful.
- In the Midwest: Mushrooms remain abundant.
- In the South and Southwest: Citrus fruits thrive at this time of year, as do apples, collards, kale, lettuce, greens and spinach. The South’s warm climate enables a variety of produce to grow during this time of year.
- The Northwest: Cabbages, root vegetables, leafy greens and mushrooms are seasonal menu possibilities.
Root vegetables and some fruits, such as apples, last longer — meaning they can still be available well into winter throughout regions.
Winter Recipe Ideas
In the cold months, hearty dishes such as soups, stews, casseroles and pasta are nourishing. Comfort foods like chili or beef and cabbage make use of the season’s produce.
Citrus is at its peak in the South in winter, so this time of year is also a time to try fresh orange juice or salads with chopped-up grapefruit and oranges. Try marinating chicken and other meats in lemon or orange juice and create your own salad dressings with grapefruit, lemon and orange juice.
Use This Seasonal Produce Guide to Shop for Local and Regional Produce
When you head to the grocery store, keep a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables with you. Look for signs that indicate whether or not something is from the local area. If you head to a farmer’s market, see if their fruits and vegetables are fresh and regional.
When heading to a farmer’s market or store to shop for produce, keep these tips in mind:
- Meal plan ahead of time. You will waste less food and have more success preparing foods if you plan for the meals you want to make ahead of time. You will know how much to buy and which ingredients you need so you have everything on hand when it’s time to cook.
- Bring small change to the farmer’s market. You might purchase smaller amounts from several vendors, and they will appreciate not having to make change from larger bills.
- Bring your own bags. Canvas tote bags can help you get your fresh produce home safely. These bags are easy to carry, provide plenty of room and are more sustainable than single-use paper or plastic bags.
- Go often. Farmer’s market fruits and vegetables change every week. Visiting often lets you enjoy the widest variety possible.
- Ask questions. Most farmer’s market vendors are happy to talk about their fruits and vegetables. Ask about unfamiliar products or for tips and even recipes to help you enjoy fruits and vegetables more.
- Be ready to store seasonal produce. Decide ahead of time whether you want to buy in bulk for canning or freezing or whether you want to buy just for current consumption. If you decide to can or freeze, have all the material you need on hand and be prepared to process the food soon after you get it. If you are just buying food for current use, make sure you avoid getting your vegetables and fruits damp to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the different seasonal produce available in each region and have some ideas of how you can enjoy all the available options in your kitchen. Now, with a list, tips and canvas bags in hand, you’re ready to enjoy vegetables and fruits each season all year long.
You Might Also Enjoy
- Part 3: Fall Fruits and Vegetables by Region
- Part 2: Summer Seasonal Produce Guide
- Part 1: Guide to Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
- How to Plant A Kitchen Herb Garden