So, what produce is in season?
When asking what produce is in season, you need to think of a few factors. What region of the world are you in? What season is it? More specifically, what is the climate in the region you are sourcing vegetables from? May in Georgia will produce a different selection of vegetables then May in California. Although, there will be some similarities in the in-season fruits and vegetables.
The best way to keep up with in season fruits and in season vegetables is to constantly check what is available. You can do this by checking out local businesses like farmers markets or farms themselves. Chances are the farms have websites with their availability. At the end of the day, seasonal produce and local produce are essentially the same thing, even though the literal meaning is different.
May is the month where In-season fruits and vegetables explode on the market. You will start to see peaches in Georgia, artichokes in California, and English peas pop up everywhere! For foodies and chefs alike, may is prime time for beautiful vegetable or fruit salads or produce centric dishes. Lets start with the vegetables available during this time.
In Season Vegetables
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 making it a perfect in season vegetable. 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 in season vegetables that is astronomically better in a certain climate. 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.
Basil comes in many different varieties ranging in a multitude of different shapes, sizes, colors and hues. You may see basil that is purple, light green, dark green, red, or a combination of colors. Varieties include Thai Basil, Holy Basil, Opal Basil, Lemon Basil, and a lot more. Although there are many different varieties the requirements, they need to meet are generally the same.
When buying basil, you want to buy the freshest possible due to the short shelf life. You want to stay away from any brown or black leaves that are slimy in texture. You want to avoid any moisture at all.
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.
Candy stripe beets are also an in-season vegetable during the month of May. These beets have a pinkish red skin with a white center spiraled with a pink stripe. They are very popular during when in season because of their unique appearance.
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.
Black Eye Peas
Black eye peas are legumes and are considered a fresh shell bean. Obviously one of the more famous “southern peas” or “field peas” so I wanted to give it its own section. When buying these in season vegetables, look for plump shells with little or no blemishes. The shells should be crisp, when you give a little pinch you should feel fat peas inside.
Younger black eye peas with be in a moist shell. This is totally fine, that means they are fresh and cook quickly. They will also have a grassier earthy taste. Older shells will be drier and take longer to cook. You will feel the beans move around a bit in the pods.
Chili peppers are in season vegetables that come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. Whit the different varieties comes varying heat intensities. Its best practice to do a little research on any peppers you do not know or have not heard of. This way you do not bite into a pepper that could hurt you.
When buying chili peppers the requirements are all the same. All peppers should have a shiny or glossy skin and a firm texture to them. Stay away from any peppers where the skin is broken, or the inside is exposed. Avoid any dark brown or black mushy spots all together.
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.
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 is one of the oldest cultivated crops ever. When talking about this in season vegetable, people either love it or hate it. Garlic is commonly overlooked when it comes to in season fruits and vegetables, but it makes a huge difference. Locally sourced garlic is way fresher and has a more robust flavor. This is because it has a smaller distance to travel so it is younger than most of the other products out there.
A matured head of garlic will have a thin flaky outer skin that covers all the bulbs. Check around the outer skin for any white, red, or blue mold that could appear. As the garlic ages the skin will become looser, so look for tight clean looking bulbs. Avoid any dark brown or black areas with mushy textures.
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!
During this time, garlic scapes are beginning to go out of season. Especially when the hotter days become more prevalent. Be sure you are checking these carefully.
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.
Green Beans are one my favorite in season vegetables during the month of May. Green beans or “snap beans” are considered pole beans. You will find green beans in a few different varieties that dictates their shape and size.
Generally, speaking green beans should be dark green and firm. These beans should snap with freshness if bent in half, hence the name snap beans. Avoid and dry or dried out bean pods, they will appear withered. Avoid any dark brown or black areas with mushy 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.
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. Do not buy overly moist lettuce, lettuce with mushy brown or black areas, wilted, or discolored in any way.
In some parts of the country, lettuce will be one of the peaks in season vegetables during the month of May. Varieties like Baby Spring Mix, Mizuna, Red Romaine, and Lollo Rosso will be available, among others.
Lima beans are available as fresh shell beans during this time. These delicious beans will change the way people view lima beans if they give them a chance. These type of shell beans require a string to be removed and the bean to be removed from the outer pod.
When buying lima beans look for pods that are crisp and plump. The pods should be well filled, and light green. Avoid any wilted pods with spotting or yellow discoloration.
Mint has many uses beside cooking. It also has many varieties as well. Varieties such as spearmint, Corsican mint, pepper mint and citrus mint are a few. Nevertheless, buy mint that has perky leaves and stems and avoid any mint leaves with black spots or wilting. Fresh mint should have a pleasant aroma, so steer clear of any off-putting smells.
May is a good month for mushrooms. You can find some of the best mushrooms of the year during this month. Varieties like morels, chicken of the woods, and oyster mushrooms are prevalent during this time. Stay away from moist or mushy mushrooms. If they have a slimy texture or have any discolorations from their natural light and dark brown, don’t buy.
One of the south’s in season vegetables, Okra is often a misunderstood addition to the late springtime. The different varieties of okra determine the contents of these springy greenish pods. Okra can vary in size from a couple inches to 8 inches long! Each pod is filled with a gelatinous substance surrounding seeds.
When buying okra, look for pods without bruising or blemishes on the exterior. Look for pods that are 3- to 5 inches long with no yellowish discoloration or wilting. If the okra is larger than this, they tend to become very tough and unpleasing.
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 leeway 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.
Oregano starts to emerge during the month of May. Since oregano is an invasive herb people will plant it in a pot or away from other plants. Oregano has a pungent aroma and a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way.
Look for perky light green leaves and stems, with a pungent yet pleasant aroma. Avoid any oregano with moisture on the leaves or stems. Stay away from black spots or wilting, and steer clear of any off-putting smells.
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.
Peas are a type of legume and come in a variety of sizes and colors including green, yellow and purple. Look for vibrant colored pods with bright peas inside. The most common pea available are English peas, but some varieties include: Little Marvel, Lincoln, Wando (frozen), and Thomas Laxton; just to name a few.
Avoid a any peas where the interiors are exposed or have blemishes or bruises of any kind. Do not buy peas that look like they are dried or withered with the beans unattached inside. You will feel them rattle around.
There are more than 4000 varieties of potatoes on the planet. So, it is safe to say that potatoes can come in every shape, size and color imaginable. From white to pink, tiny to huge, potatoes are known to all.
Regardless of the variety, potatoes should have an unblemished unbruised outer skin. Avoid any red, white, or black mold growing on the outside of the potatoes. It is best to stay away from any mushy or soft spots as well. If a potato has rot, it will give off a bad smell; be sure to smell your potato if you see any other signs.
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.
Shell beans are in season vegetables during the month of May. There are many different varieties including cranberry beans, purple royal beans, and cannellini beans. These various types of in season vegetables are a lot quicker to cook than their dried versions.
When buying shell beans, look for pods that are crisp with even size proportionate bumps. This will ensure all the beans inside are healthy. Avoid any discoloration or spotting in the shells, and steer clear from wilting or noticeably empty spots.
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.
In season vegetables like summer squash have had their popularity for an exceedingly long time. Varieties of summer squash include crookneck, zucchini, patty pan, and plenty more. Although summer squash can be found in exceptionally large sizes, but smaller squash often yields a more concentrated flavor and better texture.
Buying summer squash is regulated for all varieties. You want to buy smaller size squash with an undisturbed outer skin. Squash should be firm and crisp. Avoid any flexible squash, with brown or black spots and mushy areas. Its important to check the base of the stem for any mold and the bottom as well.
Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are the roots of the sunflower. Sunchokes have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. The skin is a light brown color, while the inside is dense and white. If cleaned properly, the sunchoke is skin is edible and nutritious. Stay away from any sunchokes with dark brown or black mushy spots or spongy areas.
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.
Fresh thyme imparts a sharp grassy flavor with floral notes. Thyme should have a strong citrus aroma, light green leaves attached to the stem, with thin clusters. Do not buy any thyme that has turned dark brown or black or has an off-putting aroma. Be sure to check through your thyme to make sure there are not moldy spots or moisture.
In Season Fruits
Apricots are the first in season fruit on the list because you will be able to get them fresh this time of year. Apricots are one of the first fruits to emerge early summer. They have a small window for ripeness so its best to hop on the opportunity. Apricots are in peak ripeness when they are firm with a little give.
When buying apricots look for smooth glossy orange skin with no blemishes or bruises. Stay away from any dark brown or black mushy areas. Keep a watchful eye for any white, blue or black mold as well.
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.
With in season fruits like blackberries, you want to source them as local as possible. The reason being, is that many commercial farmers spray their crops with pesticides to keep wildlife away. Finding a local grower will give you the opportunity to ask about their growing practice.
With blackberries you want to find plump yet firm to the touch berries. Look for blackberries that are deep purple/black and avoid any discolorations you may see. Stay away from any berries that are bruised or blemished and moist/ slimy. Check through your blackberries thoroughly for any mold that could be hiding.
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.
Cantaloupe has a rough crater-like skin and can be as small as a softball or large as a dodgeball. Cantaloupes or “rock melon” or “sweet melon” is a member of the muskmelon family. These melons have a ridged outer layer and orange flesh around a core of slimy flesh and seeds.
Melons are prone to bacteria so its important to check the outside thoroughly and do not wash them until you are ready to use. Make sure the melon is firm on the outside and has no soft spots or areas. Also check for any dark brown or black spotting.
Cucumbers are at the peak during April and are extremely popular in season fruits. 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.
Ground cherries are in season fruits that look like small yellow orange tomatillos. Like tomatillos, ground cherries are covered in a papery husk that covers the fruit. In between the fruit and the husk is a waxy substance that should be cleaned just before use. These beautiful fruits are tart with a little sweetness.
When buying ground cherries, look for husks that are still intact. Do not buy any ground cherries that have spotting or dark brown to black mushy areas.
The cousin to cantaloupe, this is one of the in season fruits that falls into the musk melon category. These melons should be firm with a smooth and glossy blueish grey rind. These melons should feel heavy for their size and should have a light green and juicy flesh.
When finding the perfect honey dew melon, checking the outside of the melon is all you can do especially at a grocery store. So be sure to check the outer rind for any black or brown discoloration and slimy and mushy areas. The Melon should weigh about 3-7 lbs.
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 , you do not want the mango to firm or is under ripe. You also want your mango to be room temperature, don’t buy cold mangos.
Nectarines resemble a peach without its fuzzy skin. These in season fruits are generally smaller than peaches and have more of a firm feel to them. These fruits are sweet and have a juicy succulence. Nectarines have a golden skin with natural blushes of red. They have the same color scheme on their flesh. More than 100 species of nectarines exist today including a white nectarine.
When buying nectarines, avoid any discoloration from the natural colors. Stay away from dark brown/black mushy areas. Do not buy any slimy or moist nectarines as they are going bad.
Peach season is here, and the different varieties will begin to surface. There are hundreds of varieties of peaches out there all classified by the ease of workability. There is clingstone, freestone, and semi-clingstone. Peaches can be found with white or yellow flesh, and almost any color skin. Almost any variety of peach that can ripen on the tree is way better than a store ripened peach.
Peaches grown commercially are often grown that are coated in pesticides and other chemicals large scale farmers use. So, it is best to buy peaches locally so you can find out more about the farmer’s practices.
When buying peaches, look for slightly firm peaches with a little bit of give. Do not buy any peaches with blemishes or bruises on the exterior. Avoid any peaches with brown or black discoloration, mushy areas, or slimy textures.
Pineapple is one of the in season fruits whose quality triples during may. Pineapples are 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.
Watermelons are vastly popular during these times. The most common types of watermelon are yellow/orange, picnic, icebox, and seedless. Picnic Watermelon are the common grocery store variety, that have a thick outer rind that are two tones of green light and dark green with a yellow splotch on one side. This was the side the mellow rested on whist growing.
The picnic watermelon should weigh 16-45 lbs. They should have sweet, red flesh with black seeds.
When looking for a watermelon, no mater the variety, the rules are the same. Look for melons that have thick and hard rinds with a creamy yellow underbelly. If you thump the underbelly and it has a deep hollow sound, then it is ripe. Do not buy watermelons whose rinds have a little give, are discolored, and have a shallow sound.
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 in season fruits have a tangy, herbal and semi- citrusy flavor. They are coated in a waxy substance and a paper-like husk that requires removal before eating. Tomatillos are incredibly unique.
Tomatillos should be plump and firm to the touch. There should be no bruises or blemishes on their skin underneath the papery husk. Stay way from and black discoloration you may see and also look out for red, blue, or white mold.
Tomatoes are my favorite in season fruits. There are over 10,000 different varieties of tomatoes that range in all sizes, shapes, and colors. There are literally endless combinations. You cannot rely on color alone when it comes to tomatoes.
When growing tomatoes, oddly enough, are cannibalistic and can cause cannibalism in another organism too. If tomatoes are in non-ideal environments, then they can release a hormone called methyl jasmonate that will essentially stop food production and start producing toxins to divert predators.
When buying tomatoes, choose tomatoes that are heavy for their size and are fragrant. Scarring is normal on many heirloom varieties, but you need to stay away from freshly torn skin. No soft mushy areas, white or blue mold, or brown/black bruises on your tomatoes.
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 in season fruits and in season vegetables! What produce is 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!