What Fruits and Vegetables in Season Now?
February is a month transitioning. The beginning of February is some of the coldest temperatures on this side of the world, while the end of February is beginning to heat up. With, February temporal changes do not affect the availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables during this month. When you utilize seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits, you reap a lot of benefits.
First off, your food will taste way better. Why do seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits taste better at specific times of the year? Well, there are many factors that come into play. When ingredients grow at in their ideal conditions, they have a better chance of a more well-rounded development. This means the flavor matures very well, nutrient levels are heightened, and physical growth is stimulated. All these factors translate into a superior result compared to the same ingredient grown out of season.
Another benefit of seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables, how eating seasonal balances your diet. It may sound weird to you, but simply eating seasonally indirectly forces you to eat a wider variety of produce. If you make the decision to change your diet with the seasons, you will have to broaden your horizon to utilizing different ingredients therefore getting a healthier balance in your diet.
Cost efficiency is a benefit that everyone can relate to no matter who you are. This benefit is straight forward. Whenever an ingredient is in season, the growth is stimulated due to ideal conditions. The growth is not just stimulated in each unit, but in the crop as a whole; thus, creating an abundance. 99% of the time a food is in abundance the price will drop considerably. Eating seasonally is not going to make you rich, but it will save you some serious cash over the course of the year.
Consuming seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits also has a positive impact on the environment. This benefit may be a topic of debate amongst the readers, but collectively I believe it to be true. For example, if a vegetable is out of season in USA chances are it is in season in Europe. So, to meet our demand, other countries will grow and transport the product here. Whatever transport method is used, chances are it is not good for the environment. Going back to my original point that if we ate seasonally as a whole, then we could probably cut down on emissions big time!
The community benefits by eating seasonally. Eating seasonally supports local farmers and local business. This is a great way to build up local economies and communities! I do not see a problem with that at all.
Now that we have gone over a few on the benefits, lets get into why we are here. Seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits; what they are, what to look for, and how to buy!
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.
Brussels Sprouts is my favorite! Think of them as little cabbages. They are sold on and off the stem, but which ever you choose to make sure they are bright green. Try to stay away from wilting or bruised outsides. These vegetables also have a long shelf life if you choose wisely. Look for the compact heads with no bruising and you should be fine.
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.
Pascal celery is the most common variety found in the united states. The celery should be light green in color and have long and crisp stalks. Stay away from any bruises or broken stalks. The leaves should be crispy and light green, and brown color in the leaves is an early sign of rotting. Celery has a moderate shelf life if left on the stalk.
Also known as celeriac, celery root grows underground as the base of celery. Go figure! This is a popular part of the vegetables in season. Celeriac is often sold covered in dirt and looks like it is not from this planet. Stick to the softball-sized roots for optimal flavor and be sure to check the root thoroughly. Celeriac tends to develop rot in spots rather than all over. The affected area will be squishy and brown.
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.
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.
Endive is special because it is strictly a cold weather vegetable. Endives are commonly found in yellow or red varieties. They should have very tight compact leaves with no blemishes at all. Only buy the perfect endives because and break or tear in the leaves, and the endive will begin to oxidize leaving an unappetizing ingredient.
Is a large root, that varies in size. It has a brown exterior and is often covered in dirt. The interior of a horseradish root is white and creamy looking. The ideal horseradish is firm with no brown or black mushy spots.
Kale is becoming more and more common especially in the diet communities. The most common forms of kale are Lacinato Kale, Red Russian, and Dwarf Siberian. Lacinato kale also known as dinosaur kale is by far is the most common. Leaves and stalks should be crisp and dry and be sure to stay away from mushy or wilted leaves.
Mushrooms are available year-round with a few exceptions. Varieties like creminis, buttons, shitakes, portobellos and so on are totally fine to buy any time. Just be sure to avoid mushrooms without slimy or moldy spots. Mushrooms have a moderate shelf life if stored under refrigeration. Use a dry paper towel to soak up any moisture secreted from the mushrooms.
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.
As far as fruits and vegetables in season, radicchio might be the least popular. Radicchio is a leafy vegetable with a bitter taste. Radicchio di Chioggia is the most common variety, but can be found in all shapes, sizes, and colors (typically red, yellow or green). In any case, you want to steer clear of the mushy or brown colored spots. Wilting is less than satisfactory as well.
Also known as broccoli rabe, Rapini looks like a leafier version of its cousin broccoli. Rapini should mimic the same dark green hue of a healthy broccoli. The leaves and florets should be vibrant and blemish free. Wilting or bruising are early signs of rotting, so stay away from any that fit that description. Any yellow spots should be avoided as well.
Look like small red onions with brown peels. These vegetables in season have a delicate onion flavor with a hint of sweetness. The bulbs should be firm and pungent. When buying, be sure to give the bulb a squeeze underneath the peel to ensure the quality.
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.
Spinach is well known throughout. The most common variety is savoy spinach 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. When buying spinach, avoid the mushy brown spotted leaves. Any discoloration at all is a bad sign.
The most common sprouts are bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. Sprouts all very is color and shapes, but they can be sold living or harvested. If you have the choice, buy living. Sprouts are usually regulated well but nevertheless check the sprouts for any off-putting smell. They should smell like cut grass. They should also be dry, stay away from the slimy texture.
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.
Turnips are a huge winter staple and come in many different varieties. The most common turnip is the purple top white globe which is considered the general use turnip variety. Baby turnips are a close runner up in commonality. Either way turnips have a relatively neutral flavor with hints of sweetness. Turnips should be firm with tight skin and depending on the variety the skin is edible. Stay away from dark colored mushy spots on turnips.
Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes, but they are two totally different species. Yams are tubers with dry bark-like skin. The interior is white and starchy, and not overly sweet. Yams should be firm with no soft spots at all.
Late season or winter apples are the first that come to mind when contemplating seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables. Some common apple varieties you will find during this time are Fuji, Golden Rush, and Pink Lady. The winter apple varieties tend to be great for cooking and, if kept around 32 F, have the longest shelf life! I have seen apples last through winter into early spring under the right circumstances.
Cherries are one of the more popular seasonal fruits. The two major species of cherries we see are sour cherries and the sweet cherry. The colors can vary from yellow to a deep darkish red. The sweet cherries are typically eaten raw while the tart cherries are cooked. It is best to buy cherries with the stem still attached. The skin should appear shiny as well. Sweet cherries are soft while sour cherries are firm. Try to avoid any deviance from these requirements.
Citrus is still rampant during the cold months, keeping them in the top of the seasonal fruits category. During this time, oranges are particularly abundant and delicious. Grapefruits are coming to an end. Make sure the citrus has a firm feel to them. If the citrus is too soft, then they are past their prime. Avoid and blemishes or discoloration.
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