So, what is seasonal produce?
You would be surprised how many people do know what seasonal produce is. This is because now days, people do not need to worry about how food gets to them. All they really must worry about is going to the store, which is great! With all the things that happen in life during this day and age, we should have to worry about our food too.
The thing is once we made food so available no matter what time of year; We basically made the knowledge of seasonal produce obsolete. People do not need to know this information anymore, only if you are passionate about food and cooking would you know this information. This is unfortunate but true.
In my opinion, food is more that just sustenance. This has been one of mankind’s favorite past times since the beginning. One can assume that first man only ate seasonal produce because we had not developed the cultivating techniques. Most of their food was hunted or foraged!
Currently, it may prove to be a little more difficult to eat seasonally. With hard work comes great rewards though! Eating seasonal produce brings along many benefits for the individual and the community.
A heathier diet, supporting local farmers and businesses, and a lesser carbon footprint on the planet are some benefits that come to mind. Just to name a few. If that is not enough, 9 times out of 10 food that is in season the price gets cut in half due to the natural abundance of seasonal produce.
With this little bit of information, its time for you to make a choice. Sure, you may have to do a little research the first year, but once you get an understanding of the fruits and vegetables in season you will reap many benefits. If not for your health, do it for the health of your loved ones, your community, or your financial health!
Vegetables in Season
Also known as rocket, arugula comes in many different varieties ranging in multiple different colors. Generally, Arugula is a peppery leafy green with a light green hue from the Mediterranean region of the world. Typical varieties include: Baby Arugula, Rucola, Colewort, or Roquette. This lettuce should be light green with no discoloration, avoid any moisture or mushy brown spots.
Asparagus comes in a handful of different varieties including wild ones. You may find asparagus that is green, white, purple, or even red. Asparagus offers a grassy and earthy flavor and a slightly woody texture depending on size and variety.
Asparagus is one of types of vegetables in season that is astronomically better in season. Look for thinner stalks, as they are the most tender. The stalks should be firm, if they flex without breaking that is a sign being past its prime. Stay away from wilting or discoloration.
Beets are often misunderstood in the hearts of the common folk of the world. It seems that the canned/ pickled beet products have ruined peoples taste for a good beet. The beets available during this time are known as golden beets. They have orange skin with a bright yellow interior and offer an earthy sweet flavor.
These beets can come with or without greens. The greens are edible but should be cleaned well. Stay away from any discoloration or mushy spots in the greens or bulb. The bulbs should be firm and the greens crisp.
Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage. These do not resemble the cabbage we are used to though; these leafy vegetables look more like a cluster of mustard greens more than anything. The stalks should be crisp and firm with no blemishes. There should be no bruises or mushy leaves. Bok choy has a short shelf life, so buy nothing less than perfect.
There are so many varieties of carrots it is unreal. Carrots will come in all shades, sizes, and hues. If the greens are still attached, look for crisp green leaves. If they are wilted or brown, it is best to stay away. Be sure to stay away from any visual blemishes on the outside and you will be in good shape. Carrots have a long shelf life and are best kept in the fridge with air flow.
You may come across swiss chard or rainbow chard, but they are all relative to the January vegetables in season. You can eat the leaves and the stems. You want the stems to be firm while the leaves to be crisp. Avoid holes or tears in the leaves, and flimsy stems.
Luckily for the untrained eye chives are the same all over. Whether Chinese or European, you want your chives to have a dark lime green hue with no yellowish discoloration.
You also want your chives to be as dry as possible. Steer clear of wet and/or slimy chives. Chives have a short shelf life so you should buy as needed, wrap with a paper towel.
I am sure everyone knows about this ingredient. You may find cilantro is a couple different varieties but the requirements they should meet are all the same. The leaves should be dark green, free of brown mushy areas and excess moisture. Steer clear of wilting or discoloration of leaves and stems and bruising as well.
Collard greens are a staple in the southern region of the USA and rightfully so. These versatile greens can be consumed both cooked and raw. These greens fall into the brassica family and brandish an army green to dark green color. When buying this ingredient, be sure to pick bundles with no discoloration at all, the early signs of bad greens are yellowish spots throughout.
Maybe the most sold seasonal produce in America. Corn is sold in its husk with stringy elements hanging from the top. The inside should be a bright yellow corn cob with fully developed kernels. Many varieties of corn are available.
Avoid slimy textures, brown and black mushy areas, Moldy areas (red, white, or blue growths), and off putting smells.
This is a great tasting bean but a pain to prepare. This one of my favorite seasonal produce options in April. Fava beans should be light green with a semi-moist pea in the center. The outer casing needs to be peeled away after cooking. Avoid discoloration of brown or yellow areas, avoid any slimy textures, or wilting of the bean.
Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow out of the hard neck garlic varieties. If let grow to fully mature, the scapes will produce flowers. There is a narrow window to get these rare treats, so buy them when you can. The stalks should be firm yet a touch flexible, and blemish free if possible. These ingredients have a short shelf life, so put them in everything!
Also known as Scallions, the green onion has a white bulb and green stalks. They offer a mild onion flavor contrary to the other alliums in the family. Green onions are readily available throughout the year but are prevalent in the wild during this time. These scallions should be crisp and flexible with a firm bulb. Stay away from wilted stalks and any moist or slimy textures.
This is a leafy green that is only found in the wild! This plant has light leafy green leaves with a centralized red stem at the base of the plant. Lambs quarters has a lot of nutritional value and is a delicacy due to its rarity. The leaves should be perky with no discoloration.
Leeks look like giant scallions with vertical fibrous layers. Leeks have white bulbs and green stalks. These alliums offer a sweet, yet mild onion flavor. Smaller leeks hold the best favor (about 1-2in diameter) and should have dark green stalks. Avoid discoloration, slimy textures, and wilted areas altogether.
There are obviously many types of lettuce. During the springtime and early summer, you will find varieties like bib lettuce, Boston lettuce, watercress, and Mache! The requirements are mostly the same. Don’t buy overly moist lettuce, lettuce with mushy brown or black areas, wilted, or discolored in any way.
April is a great month for mushrooms in this area of the world. You will find oyster mushrooms in prevalence in the wild and in the stores. The famous Morel mushrooms begin to appear during this time. These mushrooms can only be found in the wild. They are highly sought after and expensive.
Stay away from moist or mushy mushrooms. If they have a slimy texture or have any discolorations from their natural light and dark brown, do not buy.
Mustard greens are peppery and leafy greens that come in large and micro varieties. These greens can range from green, red, purple or other hues depending on multiple factors. Overall, Look for crisp and perky greens with no brown or black mushy spots. Stay away from wilted, bruised or ripped leaves to ensure maximum shelf life.
The most common onions we find today are white, yellow, and red. Due to the anatomy of onions a little outside inconsistency is ok. A perfect onion will have a perfect outer skin, whose color is consistent with the name that has no blemishes or bruises.
There is a little lee way though. If you do not have many choices, you can pick onions that have minor bruises or blemishes in the skin and top layer. Do not pick any onions that have any brown mush areas or patches of bright blue (mold) on the outside.
Parsley comes in two different varieties mostly, curly and flatleaf. Regardless, you need to see perky and crisp dark green leaves. Stay away from excess moisture and bruised or torn leaves and stems. No discoloration from the dark green leaves because this is an early sign of rot.
Pea shoots are pea plants at an incredibly early age. These pea shoots can be eaten raw or cooked and offer a mild sweet flavor. These micro greens should be bright green and delicate. Stay away from any slimy or wilted greens. Pea shoots have a short shelf life.
This clover-shaped leafy green vegetable is packed with omega 3 fatty acids. This vegetable should be light green and vibrant with crisp leaves and packs a tart lemon flavor. Just like most greens you want to avoid discoloration to yellow or dark brown, any excess moisture, or wilting. This has a short shelf life so buy perfect greens.
Radishes come in many different shapes, sizes, and varieties. Common varieties include breakfast radish, cherry belle, cherry bomb, and red king. Most radishes are sold with greens protruding from their tops. Look for firm roots with vibrant light green tops. Avoid any dark brownish spots or slimy tops.
During this month you may also come across watermelon radish. These radishes are white and green on the outside and have a bright pink center. Hence the name watermelon radish. Like others, the greens should be crisp and vibrant green with no discoloration. The bulbs should be firm and free of dark brown or black mushy areas.
Probably the rarest seasonal produce of the allium family. Ramps are only available during a short period of time on the east coast of America. They only grown in the wild and are highly sought after by foodies and chefs alike.
Ramps have a distinctive flavor of mild onion and sweetness with earthy tones. They will either have two or three leaves protruding from the ground with a white bulb submerged in the dirt. Avoid any discoloration of any kind or withering.
Rosemary is an extraordinarily strong plant that grows rampant once its seeded. Rosemary packs a huge punch of pine flavor as well as a dark green hue. Avoid discoloration in the leaves or stem, and white fuzz growing on the plant, and withering.
Although sage is often thought of as a winter herb due to its culinary uses, it is in season during the springtime. The leaves should be firm with no withering or brown mushy areas. The leaves should also be dark green with the appearance of a silvery film-like coating. Sage should also be dry, stay away from any moisture.
Snap peas or Sugar Snaps are an edible pod pea with thick, rounded pods. These are a great vegetable raw or cooked. They have a great natural sweetness which makes them popular in the raw food diet and plant-based diets. These peas should be vibrant green in color, with little to no blemishes. Avoid dark brown or back mushy spots. These peas have a moderate shelf life.
Snow peas are the counter part to the sugar snap pea. Snow peas are edible pod peas that are light green in color and are thin and flexible. These peas have a mild flavor and are consumed raw or cooked. Snow peas have a noticeably short shelf life, so it is important to buy the best quality. Stay away from any discoloration or slimy textures. Snow peas should be dry.
Sorrel comes in red and green varieties. This leafy green resembles spinach but has a sharp and tart taste. Selecting sorrel is simple. Try to pick the young and delicate leaves for the best flavor. The leaves should be vibrant in red or green colors depending on the variety. Try to avoid bruises or blemishes on the leaves or crushed stems to preserve quality.
Savoy spinach is the most common variety, but there are at least 10 others out there. Spinach leaves can be sold as loose leaves or still on the stem. The smaller leaves are ideal because they are tender, while the larger leaves tend to get more fibrous. Avoid the mushy brown spotted leaves. Any discoloration at all is a bad sign.
Is a delicate light green herb with a pungent licorice taste. This herb has a noticeably short shelf life, so buy as needed. Avoid any moisture at all and discoloration to brown or black. Any wilting at all is a bad sign. Buy perfect tarragon to maximize its life span.
Fruits in Season
Avocados are a botanically large berry with a single seed. They have a dark greenish brown outer layer with a vibrant green and creamy center. Avocados ripeness are determined based of their firmness. It they are too firm, they are not ripe yet, but they will ripen over a few days. If they are mushy, do not buy.
Always go for too firm if you must make a choice. You can always wait a couple days for them to get to their ideal ripeness. This is a highly sought seasonal produce ingredient.
Blueberries may be available year-round, but this is peak season! Buy plump and dark blue blueberries. Avoid in soft or mushy berries, slimy textures, and white growth (mold). Be sure to check the top and bottom of the box before buying.
Cucumbers are at the peak during April and are extremely popular seasonal produce! You may be wondering why cucumbers are in the fruit section? Well cucumbers are fruit! It is only thought to be a vegetable because how it is used from a culinary standpoint.
Look for cucumbers without any blemishes or soft spots. Cucumbers should be dry on the outside, avoid any slimy textures or discolorations in the skin.
Mangos are a little different from the normal requirements from buying fruits. You want your mangos to be green and red on the outside. When you hold the mango look for the firmness of the mango, you do not want the mango to firm or is underripe. You also want your mango to be room temperature.
Pineapple is one of the seasonal produce ingredients whose quality skyrockets when it is in season. Pineapple is a large tree fruit, with a yellow and brown bulb and vibrant leaves protruding from the top. Steer clear from soft or mushy areas, discoloration, wilted leaves, or a slimy texture.
Known for their characteristic flavor and sweetness. Strawberries are at their peak during this time. Look for plump berries with vibrant greens. Do not get this confused with their size, they should be plump; size does not matter. Avoid any bruises or blemishes in the skin. Stay away from soft mushy areas, or discoloration.
These descriptions are not for you to forage with. You need to know more before foraging for things!! Most plants have look-a-likes that are poisonous. Speak to a professional before going into the wild and foraging.
Big thanks to some other blogs and sites out there that provide awesome information! Keep the seasonality movement alive by using fruits in season and vegetables in season! Spread the knowledge everyone!
If you like this seasonal produce guide, then check out the others we have!! We have it broken down by monthly produce in season!