Guide to Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
When you buy in-season fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy peak flavor and save money. Seasonal, regional produce is often less expensive and more sustainable because it does not have as far to travel to reach your local store or farmer’s market.
While you might associate autumn with squash and summer with juicy berries, other tasty vegetables and fruits ripen all year long — offering up a fine list of ingredients for all kinds of flavorful dishes. Knowing what produce is in-season throughout the year can help you plan your weekly grocery trips and broaden your meal options.
Seasonal Food Guide for Fruits and Vegetables by Region
Vegetables and fruits vary by the time of year and region. In this four-part series, we will take a look at which fruits and vegetables are available each season in different growing regions of the U.S., starting with spring:
Part 1: Spring Seasonal Produce Guide
As temperatures become warmer, and the days get longer, growing conditions throughout the nation start ramping up for spring. Because of this, there are a variety of fruits and vegetables readily available across the country during this season:
1. The Northeast
Spring in the Northeast states means root vegetables and leafy greens dominate:
- Asparagus: This vegetable is highly versatile in your kitchen. You can use it raw in salads, cooked on its own as a side dish or even wrapped in bacon — and the list does not stop there.
- Beets: Beets can be prepared in a variety of ways, but depending on your tastes, you may not like them on their own. However, they are ideal for dips and sauces, and with their rich, red color, they work perfectly for food coloring.
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin B6. How can you incorporate it into your weekly menu? You might try making pizza crust with it or even a tasty side of cauliflower fried rice.
- Kale: You may prefer spinach over this leafy green, but kale has many vitamins and minerals and can be used in a variety of ways. It blends well into smoothies, you can make kale chips or use it mixed in with pasta.
Other fresh springtime options you can find in the Northeast include mushrooms, arugula, broccoli, carrots, garlic and parsnips.
2. The Midwest
Spring in the Midwest brings a range of vegetables, including root vegetables. You will not see fruit this time of year, though:
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are low in calories and fat and provide a multitude of health benefits. They are also easily incorporated into a variety of dishes, just chop them up and add them to pasta or rice. They also work well to eat by themselves.
- Radishes: If you are familiar with radishes, you might know they have a bit of a zing to them. You can use them in a variety of different ways. Eat them raw, pickled or roasted — they also can be a tasty addition to tacos.
- Peppers: Sweet, spicy and everything in between, peppers come in many types. Chop them up and add them to salads and sandwiches or stuff them with cream cheese for a delightful side dish.
Other Midwest spring vegetables you’ll be able to find locally include lettuce, beets, spinach and rhubarb.
Spring in the South and Southwest offers citrus fruit and a variety of vegetables and produce not available in the rest of the country. Seasonal produce in this region includes:
- Apricots: Apricots can be used in anything from savory main dishes to desserts. You could combine them with chicken for a light spring dinner, and then top it off with a tasty dessert like apricot nut bread or apricot pie.
- Avocados: Avocados are bursting with beneficial nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin E. Their versatility allows them to be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes — even dessert.
- Cabbage: You will also find a variety of vitamins in cabbage, and it is highly versatile for meals. Even the core is usable if you slice it thinly.
Other fruits and vegetables you can find during spring in the South and Southwest include blueberries, cucumber, collards, onions and turnips.
Spring in the Northwest brings a range of greens and vegetables to the market, including:
- Potatoes: Baked, roasted or au gratin — potatoes can be cooked in many ways. If you want to store potatoes, be sure to keep them in a paper bag, bowl or box in a cool area to preserve freshness
- Arugula: This leafy green, with its peppery taste, is ideal in salads. It can also be used as a pizza topping, mixed in with pasta or served alongside juicy chicken.
- Rhubarb: Sour, sweet or something in between? Rhubarb might be a bit of an acquired taste, but its tartness is perfect for pies, cobblers and more.
Other fruits and vegetables you can find during spring in the Northwest are strawberries, kale, salad greens and mushrooms.
When picking up your vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market or the store, try using our canvas tote bags from Cotton Creations. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes to ensure you have enough room to get all your fresh produce home.
Enjoy your delicious spring fare, and stay tuned for the next post to see what seasonal fruits and vegetables you can find in each region during the summer.