Here in the United States, we're lucky to have an abundance of fresh produce available all year round. But even with year-round access to fruits and vegetables, there's something special about eating produce that's in season. Not only is seasonal produce typically fresher and tastier, but it also tends to be more affordable!
We believe that knowing which fruits and vegetables are in season is important for a few reasons:
- Seasonal produce is often fresher since it doesn't have to travel as far to reach your plate.
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be more affordable than those that are out-of-season.
- Eating seasonally helps you eat a more varied diet, which is important for overall health.
- In-season produce has a higher nutritional value, including phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Seasonal produce just tastes better!
If you're raring to go to your local farmers market or grocery store to stock up on seasonal produce, but have a hard time keeping track of what vegetables are in season and when, don't worry—we've got you covered. With so many different fruits and vegetables available year-round in groceries and supermarkets, it can be hard to distinguish what's seasonal produce and what isn't.
Our simple guide on the many fruits and vegetables in season throughout the year will help make your shopping trips easier (and tastier)! You'll never be at a loss about what's in season in California, in Florida, or anywhere else you might be in the US!
What is Seasonal Eating?
Seasonal eating is simply the practice of basing your meals around produce that is currently in season. This means eating fruits and vegetables that are grown and harvested during their natural growing cycle in your specific location. This, of course, limits the types of fruits and vegetables you have access to at different times of the year. But that's not necessarily a bad thing!
Basing your meals around seasonal produce forces you to be more creative in the kitchen and try new fruits and vegetables that you may not have otherwise considered. It also helps you eat a more diverse diet, which is important for overall health.
Eating seasonally also has environmental benefits. Produce that is grown and harvested in season requires less energy to transport since it doesn't have to travel as far to reach your plate.
These reasons provide a strong case for making an effort to incorporate more seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet. Combined with the fact that seasonal produce is often fresher, tastier, and cheaper—with more nutrients—it's hard to argue against eating seasonally on a practical level.
But for dedicated seasonal eaters, vegetables in season aren't just what's available—they're the best possible option!
One final note before we dive in: While this guide covers the four main seasons in the United States, it's important to remember that the specific fruits and vegetables in season will vary depending on what region of the country you live in. The current crop of in-season produce in California—one of the hotter states in the US—will be different from what's in season in Maine, for instance.
What's In Season?
Each season brings with it a varied bounty of fruits and vegetables to enjoy. Here's what you can expect to find in season during each of our four main seasons. We also highlight three ingredients for each season that we think are particularly noteworthy for home cooks like us!
Spring is traditionally a time for new beginnings, and that rings true when it comes to produce. This season is a sentimental favorite for many seasonal eaters, as it signals the end of winter and the return of warmer weather (and fresher, more vibrant ingredients). Say goodbye to root vegetables and storage crops, and hello to delicate greens and sweet fruits!
Just take a look at all the wonderful produce that comes with spring:
- Swiss Chard
What a treat! We love spring produce for its vibrant colors and flavors. This is the time of year when we start to see lighter, fresher dishes appearing on menus as chefs get excited about cooking with ingredients that are finally in season again.
Of all the spring fruits and vegetables, we think three deserve a special mention:
This tall, thin vegetable is one of the first harbingers of spring. It's prized for its unique flavor, which has been described as grassy, nutty, and earthy. Asparagus is also lauded for its nutritional value, as it's a good source of vitamins A, C, and E as well as folate, potassium, and antioxidants. This unassuming vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which is not a common vitamin found in many foods.
One of our favorite ways to prepare fresh asparagus is by combining some boiled spears with burrata cheese balls to create an appetizer that's sure to impress. Jazz it up with some pine nuts, golden raisins, saffron, and freshly ground black pepper for extra flavor.
When shopping for asparagus, look for firm spears, with tightly closed tips. Avoid asparagus that looks limp or has open, dry tips. You can store asparagus in the fridge for a few days, but it's best enjoyed as soon after purchase as possible.
This vegetable gets a bad rap, but we think it's undeserved. Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, and it's incredibly versatile, too. It can be enjoyed cooked or raw, making it a great addition to salads, pasta, pizzas, veggie bowls, and more.
Picky eaters may want to smother their broccoli in cheese, but we think this vegetable is best enjoyed when it's allowed to shine. We love roasting broccoli with a little bit of butter and sea salt. The high heat brings out the natural sweetness of the broccoli, and the crispy bits are absolutely to die for.
Stir-fries, soups, and salads are also great ways to enjoy broccoli. Just be sure not to overcook it, as this can make the vegetable mushy and unappetizing.
The best broccoli grows in the cooler months of the year, so it's at its peak during spring. Look for broccoli that has tight, green heads and avoid any that have yellowing florets or brown spots.
Ah, apricots. These little beauties are only in season for a short time, so make sure to enjoy them while you can! Sunny climates are where apricots thrive
The word "apricot" comes from the Latin word for "early-ripening," as these fruits tend to ripen earlier than other stone fruits like peaches and plums. Apricots are prized for their sweet, delicate flavor and their soft, velvety texture
These fruits are delicious on their own, but they also make a great addition to salads, yogurt, and cereal. You can even use them in savory dishes like pork tenderloin or chicken salad to add a touch of sweetness.
One of our go-to cheat meals is vanilla ice cream with fresh apricots and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts. It's the perfect sweet treat—decadent and satisfying without being too heavy.
When shopping for apricots, look for fruits that are soft to the touch but not mushy. You should also be able to smell the apricot's signature fragrance. Avoid any fruit that is bruised or has brown spots. You're looking for a deep orange color with a slight red tinge.
This is the time of year when farmers' markets are overflowing with colorful fruits and vegetables, making it the perfect time to stock up on seasonal ingredients.
Here are just some of the in-season vegetables and fruits that we plan on eating non-stop this summer:
- Green Beans
As you can see, this season is all about fresh, juicy fruits and crisp vegetables. We love how easy it is to eat seasonally in the summer. No need to limit yourself to just one type of produce—this is the time of year when you can really mix and match to create delicious, healthy meals.
Check out our top three summer produce picks below:
These versatile vegetables can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or even pickled. We love to add them to salads for a crunchy texture and extra nutrients. Green beans are also delicious when sauteed with garlic or served with a dipping sauce like ranch dressing to bring out their natural sweetness.
Look for bright green beans that are firm to the touch. Avoid any green beans that are yellowing, wilted, or have brown spots. You can store green beans in the fridge for up to one week.
Technically a fruit, zucchini is often used as a vegetable in recipes.
Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as potassium and fiber. This low-calorie fruit is also packed with antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage. If your job has you using your eyes a lot (like staring at a computer screen all day), munching on some zucchini can help protect your vision—in addition to vitamin A, it also contains beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, all of which are great for eye health.
There are so many ways to enjoy zucchini! One of our favorites is simply grilling it and adding a little seasoning. Zucchini is also delicious when shredded and baked into bread or biscuits, stirred into soups, or even used as a low-carb alternative to pasta.
The best zucchinis tend to be small to medium in size and have smooth, shiny skin. Avoid any squash that is dull-looking or has brown spots. For the longest shelf life, store them in a plastic bag (not too tight!) in the crisper drawer.
Now, these are perhaps the most popular fruit of the summer—and for good reason! Avocados are creamy, delicious, and versatile. Packed with heart-healthy fats, avocados can help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling satisfied for longer. They're also a good source of vitamins C, E, and K as well as potassium.
We love to add avocados to just about everything in the summertime. They make a great addition to salads and sandwiches or can be enjoyed on their own with a little seasoning. Try making a simple avocado toast for a quick and healthy snack. Just top some whole wheat bread with mashed avocado and your favorite toppings—we like to add a little salt, pepper, and lime juice.
Raw, cooked, or in a dip, there's no wrong way to enjoy avocados. For a cooling treat that's just as delicious as it is simple, try our avocado ice pops. Simply blend avocados, milk, honey, and vanilla extract in a blender until smooth. Then freeze in an ice cube tray for individual servings that are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth without all the guilt.
We always look for avocados that are soft but not mushy. You should be able to easily dent the flesh with your thumb, for instance. Avoid any avocados that are hard as a rock or have brown spots on the skin. You can store avocado halves in the fridge for up to two days.
As summer comes to a close, the leaves start to change color and the weather gets cooler. This signals the start of autumn, which means it's time to enjoy some fall fruits and vegetables.
Most Americans count fall as their favorite season. It's not hard to see why: the crisp air, the beautiful leaves, and of course, the delicious food. There's nothing quite like a warming bowl of soup made with seasonal produce like squash, carrots, and potatoes. And let's not forget about all the pies and cobblers made with fresh apples and berries to combat the chillier weather.
If you're looking for some seasonal inspiration, here are a few of our favorite fruits and vegetables to enjoy in fall:
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
Collard greens get a bad rap—they're often overshadowed by their more popular cousins, kale and spinach. But these leafy greens are worth a second look. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, and minerals like calcium and iron.
The South is pretty much where it's at when it comes to collard greens. An ever-present dish at Southern meals, collard greens are often cooked low and slow with cured meats (like bacon or ham) to give the slightly bitter greens some oomph. The longer cooking time also helps to break down the tough fibers and absorb all the rich flavors from the meats.
While you can find collard greens year-round, they're actually in season in the fall. When shopping for these leafy greens, look for ones that have crisp, dark green leaves. Avoid any that are yellowing or have brown spots. You can store collard greens in the fridge for up to five days. Be sure to give them a good wash before cooking as they tend to be sandy when freshly picked.
Everyone likes bananas, right? They're perfect for a quick snack, as a tasty addition to breakfast, or in a smoothie. Bananas are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Aside from eating them raw, there are plenty of ways to enjoy bananas. One of our favorites is to slice them up and add them to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt. You can also bake with bananas—try adding them to quick breads, pancakes, or muffins for some extra sweetness and flavor.
You want bananas that are free of bruises or brown spots. If you have unripe green bananas on hand, simply place them in a basket at room temperature and wait a few days for them to ripen. Once ripe, you can store bananas in the fridge for up to five days.
If you love spicy food, you may instinctively skip over the bell peppers at the grocery store. Who cares about peppers that don't bring the heat? But unlike most hot peppers, bell peppers aren't there to spice up your life—they're there to add flavor.
When shopping for bell peppers, look for ones that are brightly colored and firm to the touch. Avoid peppers that have soft spots or are starting to wrinkle. Store them in your crisper drawer, and they should last for up to a week.
While winter may not be everyone's favorite season, it does have its perks—namely, the food. This is the time of year for cozy comfort foods and seasonal produce. So whether you're looking for a hearty stew to warm you up on a cold day or some fresh vegetables to add to your holiday dinner, here are a few of our favorite winter fruits and vegetables:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Squash
Summer squash gets most of the attention as one of the most sought-after vegetables in season in California and other warm states, but winter squash is no slouch. A type of squash that is characterized by its hard and thick skin, winter squash is available in 12 varieties, including acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash.
While it can be a bit of a pain to cut through the tough skin, winter squash is well worth the effort. The flesh is sweet and creamy, making it perfect for soups, stews, and pies that comfort and warm you up on a cold winter day.
When shopping for winter squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have a hard, dull surface. You can store them whole in a cool, dark place for up to two months.
There's nothing like a bright splash of orange to inject some life into the dark days of winter, and that's exactly what in-season carrots do. These crisp, sweet vegetables are a welcome addition to any winter meal. Whether they're in the foreground or the background of a dish, they always manage to make their presence known.
Carrots are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. They can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or juiced. We love adding on a few carrots to our stir-fries, along with some organic ground beef for a complete and balanced meal.
When shopping for carrots, look for ones that are bright orange and firm to the touch. Avoid carrots that are limp, discolored, or have cracks or holes in them. Store them in your crisper drawer, and they should last for up to two weeks.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and fiber. You'll find kale pretty much all year round, but it's especially plentiful in the winter.
Kale can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or juiced. It's a great addition to soups, stews, salads, and main courses that can use the slightly bitter flavor and nutrient-rich punch that it packs.
The best kale is dark green and slightly curly. Avoid kale that is yellow, wilted, or has brown spots. Store it in your crisper drawer, where it should last for up to a week.
Here Comes Farmstead
Let's be honest. Most of you won't have everything on hand to make the recipes above. Trekking to your local farmer's market every few days can be a pain, because who has time for that anyway? What if you don't even know what vegetables are in season? Or how to pick fruits?
That's where Farmstead comes in. Simply put, we bring the farmer's market to you.
Our partner farmers grow the freshest, most delicious in-season produce around, and our team of full-time personal shoppers hand-pick your order with care. We do all that with zero delivery fees, service fees, or membership fees, so you can enjoy all the seasonal produce you want without weighing down your wallet or conscience.
Sign up now and enjoy in-season produce, picked just for you!