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Seasonal Produce Guide: Your Month-by-Month Farmers’ Market Plan

April 19, 2022

Modern supply chains and refrigeration methods can trick us into thinking our favorite ingredients are in season year-round. But once you taste a ripe carrot straight from the dirt, or bite into a juicy peach you picked in the heat of summer, you know the best produce is enjoyed seasonally. Our guide has the top fruit and vegetable picks for every month of the year so you can plan your menus around what’s fresh, plus healthy recipes to add to the rotation.

5 Benefits of Eating Seasonally

There are myriad reasons why seasonal eating is the way to go.

  1. More flavor. An August tomato tastes juicier than one grown in the off-season (and trucked in from several states away).
  2. Healthier ingredients. Shopping at your weekly market means the food was likely harvested that morning (or the day before). Fresh produce also contains remnants of soil that harbor good bacteria, which may support better gut health.
  3. Support local economies. When you shop local, you contribute to the bottom line of local businesses and help keep your dollars in the community where you live.
  4. Curb emissions. By eating locally, you may reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 7 percent. A 1994 study introduced the concept of “food miles”—the distance food travels before being consumed. Distance is just one factor when it comes to a food’s carbon footprint: Storing food consumes electricity, and growing ingredients in non-native climates can use up more fertilizer, which produces C02 gasses.
  5. Save money. In-season ingredients from local purveyors are often lower in price because when there’s an abundance of a single ingredient, prices go down. (Thank you, supply and demand.)

Tips for Eating With the Seasons

Embrace seasonal eating with these simple tips.

  • Start with research. Spend some time researching everything your community has to offer, like pick-your-own produce farms, CSA programs, and weekly farmers’ markets.
  • Leverage social media. After you identify local options, follow them on social media to stay updated on special events, announcements, and recipe ideas. You can also follow local food bloggers to learn even more about your area.
  • Upgrade your reusable storage. When you come home with your goods, store your fruits and vegetables in reusable storage bags and containers to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Seasonal Produce Guide: Winter

When cold temperatures reign, warm up from the inside out with the season’s bounty.

January

seasonal produce

Citrus
Lemon, grapefruit, and oranges shine in January, which is a good thing because they easily brighten cool-weather dishes. Use them liberally in vinaigrettes, to finish a platter of roasted veggies, or to make fresh fruit juice.

Fennel
Fennel is a flowering plant indigenous to the Mediterranean. Its light anise-flavored bite pairs well in raw slaws and kale salads and you can also roast it with chicken for a cozy Sunday supper.

Sweet Potatoes
From baked fries to a hearty mash, is there anything a sweet potato can’t do? These tubers are rich in vitamin A and dietary fiber (hello, better digestion) and are readily available in the winter season.

Turnips
Turnips thrive in cold weather and are a great potato alternative that can be mashed, roasted, or simmered in soups. They also boast vitamin C, calcium, and folate. When choosing them at the market, small turnips are sweeter than their mature counterparts.

February

Beets
Beets come in a variety of colors—red adds an earthy flavor, while orange beets are sweeter, and their greens are edible too. Just give them a good wash and sauté with garlic for a quick and warming side.

Bok Choy
Boost the nutrition of your next stir fry with bok choy, a source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Celery Root
Also known as celeriac, this root vegetable is about the size of a grapefruit and has a gnarled exterior. The inside flesh has a mild celery flavor that’s a perfect stand in anywhere you’d use regular potatoes.

Cabbage
A staple in many Eastern European cuisines, cabbage is sometimes underrated but shouldn’t be overlooked. From salads and slaws to pickled sauerkraut, it’s a healthy, versatile winter staple. Try it roasted for added flavor!

March

seasonal produce

Kale
Brassicas like kale and collards are sturdy winter basics. Kale can be massaged for salads, sautéd with onions and garlic, added to soups, and more.

Parsnip
Parsnips look like carrots but are paler in color. This root vegetable thrives in the cooler months and can be enjoyed all season long.

Radicchio
Radicchio looks like a small cabbage with lovely white and purple leaves that are spicy and bitter (but the flavor mellows when grilled or roasted).


Seasonal Produce Guide: Spring

When the weather warms up, it’s time to celebrate the return of all things green.

April

seasonal produce asparagus

Asparagus
Roasted, grilled, steamed, or boiled, asparagus pairs beautifully with all your favorite proteins like salmon, shrimp, and chicken. You can even add them to spring-inspired pizzas and pastas.

Leeks
Spring leeks (along with spring garlic and onions) are mild alliums that add a backbone of flavor to sauces, soups, and pesto. Be sure to clean them well—sand and grit can collect in the leaves.

Peas
Small and flavorful, fresh peas add brightness to spring meals and nutrition like vitamins A, K, and folate.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb has a short season, so enjoy it while you can. The vibrant pink stalk is edible, though quite sour so often paired with plenty of sugar and other seasonal fruits like strawberries.

May

seasonal produce strawberries

Artichokes
When shopping for artichokes, look for one that’s heavy when you pick it up and has tight leaves.

Fava Beans
Fava beans have to be shelled twice—first when you remove them from the pod and again after you cook them.

Radishes
Radishes are small, fresh, and a little spicy. Serve these crisp veggies raw in slaws, with tacos, or in salads, or roast them and serve on baguette slices with a bit of salted butter.

Strawberries
Is it even spring if you don’t bite into a juicy strawberry? Small, dark berries will have the most flavor (perfect for eating straight from the carton), and larger ones are perfect for baking.

June

seasonal produce

Arugula
This spicy green is extra flavorful when you catch it in-season. Toss a light salad, top a pizza, or blend it into pesto.

Basil
Basil pairs well with arugula (above) and can be used to add extra flavor to pasta dishes, sauces, or even simmered with an ice cream base for a savory summer flavor.

Blueberries
Like strawberries, the brief summer season of blueberries is not to be missed. Freeze them for smoothies, bake into crumbles, or top off your morning short stack.

Corn
Grilled or shucked, sweet corn is a spring and summer staple. With a mild flavor, corn soaks up other ingredients like herb butter, Pecorino cheese, and pesto, so don’t be shy.

Cucumber
Fresh and snappy cucumbers have a big range—from homemade pickles to smashed salads, there are lots of recipes to use them up. You can also infuse your water all season long—just add sliced cucumbers and lemons to a pitcher of water and chill overnight.


Seasonal Produce Guide: Summer

Cold temperatures and snow are nowhere to be found, which means summer’s bounty is just around the corner.

July

seasonal produce

Cantaloupe
This sweet melon doesn’t need much to make it shine. You can always enjoy a slice as-is, or dress it up with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil, pinch of sea salt, and confetti of fresh basil.

Peppers
Peppers reach their peak in the summer months and are a versatile addition to your menus. Top a pizza, cook up fajitas, or stuff them with cheese, corn, and black beans for an impressive vegetarian main.

Raspberries
Summer raspberries shine in pies, jams, tarts, and cocktails. These delicate fruits won’t last long, so don’t waste any time adding them to your favorite fruit-forward recipes.

Zucchini
Zucchini is known for taking over the garden, but there’s lots you can do with this veggie. Toss it on the grill or roast it for savory dishes, or bake up a loaf of zucchini bread or a batch of wholesome muffins.

August

seasonal produce

Green Beans
In peak season, green beans need little more than a pinch of sea salt and a slick of oil to bring out their natural sweetness. They make a delicious side (try adding almonds for crunch) or an addition to fresh salads.

Okra
This green vegetable grows best in hot and humid climates, and is an essential ingredient in Caribbean, Indian, and Southern cuisine, especially dishes like gumbo and stews. It has a mild grassy flavor and can be pan-roasted, sautéed, or fried.

Tomatoes
August is tomato season at its finest. Cherry, heirloom, or varieties local to your area will be brimming at the farmers’ market this month.

Watermelon
Seasonal melons provide juicy hydration with the added benefit of sweet summertime flavor. You can enjoy them as a stand-alone snack or dessert, but watermelon also lend themselves to supporting roles in savory salads with tomatoes and feta, smoothies, or homemade margaritas.

September

seasonal produce plums

Broccoli
Like other brassicas, broccoli shines when paired with bold aromatics like garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. When you’re shopping, look for tightly packed florets with minimal brown spots.

Eggplant
Like tomatoes, when eggplants come into season your local market might be overflowing with all sorts of varieties. Larger globes are perfect for slicing and frying (eggplant parmesan, anyone?) while thinner eggplants can be grilled or roasted easily (and drizzled with bright chimichurri).

Figs
Figs are one of the oldest cultivated fruits and always a welcome addition to cheese platters. Try them grilled, drizzled with honey, stuffed with goat cheese, or wrapped in prosciutto for a no-cook late-summer appetizer.

Plums
Eating a ripe plum is a real pleasure, but don’t miss baking up a plum pie or pistachio crumble before the season ends.


Seasonal Produce Guide: Fall

Cold temperatures and snow are on the horizon now—here’s the bounty to enjoy while you still can.

October

seasonal produce

Apples
Before you start cooking and baking, keep in mind that conventionally grown apples are exposed to more pesticides, so choose organic when you can, and wash them with a fruit and vegetable spray before using.

Butternut Squash
Squash season always ushers in new levels of cozy in the kitchen. Before peeling and roasting for soups, choose a butternut squash that feels heavy for its size and is relatively blemish free.

Pumpkin
If you’re on team pumpkin spice, this is your month to really indulge. To find the right one, knock on the shell and listen for a hollow sound.

Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is somewhere in the middle of the greens spectrum—not as tough as kale, but not as tender as spinach. That means it’s a versatile green for all manner of dishes—not to mention the nutritional boost from vitamins A and C.

November

seasonal produce

Brussels Sprouts
If you’ve had a bad experience with them in the past, they were very likely overcooked. These nutritious vegetables take on a caramelized quality when roasted or pan-seared properly and are delicious alongside cold-weather mains like pork chops and rib eye steak.

Parsnips
No, they’re not just white carrots. These root vegetables can be roasted, pan-seared, and turned into a silky purée.

Pears
To tell if a pear is ripe, press lightly at the top of the fruit, just beside the stem. If it gives slightly, the pear is ready to enjoy. This fruit is naturally sweet, but pairs well with savory ingredients, especially cheese and nuts.

December

seasonal produce

Collard Greens
Collards are in the same family as mustard greens, kale, and other hearty greens. They’re known for having large leaves (ideal for using as wraps in both raw and cooked dishes) or cooked down for a classic Southern side.

Leeks
Leeks add a mild flavor to risottos, soups, and more. They’re more tender in the spring, but can also be found in the fall and used anywhere you’d include onion, especially when you’re sauteing aromatics to form a flavor base.

Mushrooms
For topping pizza, tossing with pasta, or assembling cheesy toast, nothing beats the earthy flavor of mushrooms. Look for fungi with a firm, smooth texture and wipe them down with a damp cloth before using.

Rutabagas
Another winter root vegetable, rutabagas are a hybrid between turnips and wild cabbage. Rutabagas grow well in cool climates and have a slightly bitter flavor—try them roasted alongside other seasonal vegetables like squash, carrots, and parsnip.


Cozy Winter Recipes

The best winter recipes make the most of the season with cool-weather cooking techniques like braising and hours-long simmered soups.

One-Pot Kale and Mushroom Pasta

One-pot recipes are weeknight time savers, and this dish hits all the flavor marks with meaty shiitake mushrooms, baby kale, and salty Parmesan cheese.

Lemon-Ginger Chicken Zucchini Noodle Soup

Warm up from the inside out with a steaming pot of chicken zucchini noodle soup. A bright lemon-ginger broth adds lots of flavor, and the recipe is gluten-free and paleo.

Braised Cabbage with Pears

Embrace sweet and savory in this winter side featuring tender braised cabbage, sweet pears, and tart balsamic vinegar.

Sweet Potato Latkes

Traditional latkes with a twist. This sweet potato version is paleo-friendly thanks to coconut flour, and we add grated apple for sweetness.

Roasted Beets With Goat Cheese

Elegant and understated, this recipe combines roasted red and golden beets with goat cheese, red wine vinegar, honey, star anise, and tarragon leaves.

Parsnip Fries

If you never turn down a plate of fries, this paleo-friendly recipe makes it easy to indulge—don’t miss the sorrel mayo for dipping.

Crunchy Brussels Sprout Slaw

Fresh and crunchy, Brussels sprouts and radicchio are paired with sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds, then drizzled with a tangy apple dressing.

Colorful Kale Salad With Sweet Potatoes and Tahini Dressing

In this salad, kale, sweet potato, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and almonds offer a nutritious way to brighten up a dreary winter’s day.


Healthy Spring Recipes

Spring recipes are all about celebrating the return of fresh produce—here are our favorite ways to make the most of it.

Spring Wellness Bowl

Bright and refreshing, spring watercress and watermelon radishes are tossed with creamy avocado and salty feta for a hearty bowl to enjoy as a main or side dish.

Paleo Primavera Quiche

Build a better brunch with a stunning gluten-free (and paleo-friendly) quiche that’s overflowing with spring’s best vegetables like asparagus and peas.

Snap Pea, Green Bean, and Purple Potato Salad

Orange brown butter is the secret ingredient in this simple spring salad. Toss it with verdant green beans, crisp snap peas, and creamy purple potatoes for a colorful vegetarian side.

Green Spring Rolls

Go green with veggie spring rolls. Every bite is full of bright herbs, avocado, and crisp pea shoots. Enjoy them as a light lunch or healthy appetizer.

Grilled Shrimp Louie Salad

A dusting of paprika gives this salad the smoky treatment. Served alongside hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and greens, it’s a healthy dish to enjoy all season.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Here’s a gluten-free and paleo-friendly option for breakfast or brunch. Inspired by the classic British breakfast, these dippers use fresh asparagus spears wrapped in salty bacon.

Rhubarb Bars

Straight from Jodi Moreno’s beautiful cookbook, these rhubarb bars make the most of the short growing season and are dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian.


Easy Summer Recipes

When the dog days of summer arrive, some of the year’s best produce isn’t far behind.

Almond-Green Bean Soup

Here’s a soup that’s clean-eating approved (while also surprisingly filling). The dairy-free recipe combines green beans, almond flour, leafy greens, and vegetable stock.

Zucchini and Mozzarella Salad

When turning on the oven is the last thing you want to do, assemble a zucchini and mozzarella salad with zesty lime and fresh herbs.

Watermelon Gazpacho

Is it even summer if you haven’t made gazpacho? This blender recipe adds watermelon to the mix for a slightly sweet take that pairs splendidly with tomatoes, cucumbers, and jalapeños.

Watermelon and Lime Frozen Margarita

Time for happy hour! Keep the watermelon love going with a summery margarita blended with coconut nectar, jalapeños, lime juice, and Blanco tequila.

Grilled Corn With Chipotle Lime Mayonnaise

Need a winning side for your next barbecue? Grilled corn will hit the spot. Our recipe is a creamy and salty combination thanks to creamy mayonnaise, melted butter, salty cheese, and bright cilantro.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

When zucchini overflows in the garden, make muffins. This gluten-free recipe uses three different flours—almond, coconut, and cassava—plus shredded zucchini and chocolate chips for good measure.

Gluten-Free Bánh Mì

Quick-pickled summer vegetables and seared ahi tuna steaks put a twist on this Vietnamese sandwich that packs briny and salty flavor in every bite.

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

Put carbs on the shelf while enjoying summer’s fresh herbs. Spiralized zucchini strands stand in for spaghetti while cannellini beans up the ante with protein.

Cucumber Seaweed Salad

This light and refreshing cucumber salad combines Japanese-inspired flavors like wakame, dashi, and minced ginger.

Tomato and Olive Oil Salad

When heirloom tomatoes arrive, keep it simple with herbs, shallot, flaky salt, and your best bottle of olive oil.

Berry Clafoutis

This quick clafoutis is a rustic French baked custard that’s light, airy, and filled with fresh summer berries.


Best Fall Recipes

When summer turns to fall, it’s time to cozy up your cooking while still enjoying lingering summer produce.

Sheet Pan Chicken With Leeks and Butternut Squash

Easy cleanup alert! This sheet pan dinner comes together easily and is completely craveable—tender chicken, leeks, and butternut squash are worth adding to your weekly rotation.

Cauliflower Risotto With Scallops

This keto-friendly recipe uses riced cauliflower instead of traditional arborio rice. The dish is still extra creamy thanks to two types of cheese and nestled with perfectly seared scallops.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin spice for breakfast? Yes, please! This smoothie starts with pumpkin purée, then adds banana, dates, coconut milk, and warming spices.

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

The pumpkin train continues with paleo bread that uses almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour along with organic pumpkin, allspice, coconut oil, and pumpkin seeds.

Sweet Potato Hash Brown Waffles

Here’s a clever take on waffles that works seamlessly for brunch or dinner. We top the sweet potato-infused batter with a fried egg, cubed avocado, and cilantro.

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower

Here’s a vegan recipe everyone will love. Cauliflower and onion are coated in bold spices like curry and cinnamon, then tossed together with raisins and coconut flakes before hitting the oven.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

When you need an after-school snack or salty nibble for cocktail hour, serve up these crunchy pumpkin seeds roasted with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and maple syrup.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes With Maple Creme Fraiche

Upgrade simple sweet potatoes with aromatic sage, warm nutmeg, and a dash of heavy cream—serve it as a side with roasted meats or a fresh salad to keep things light.

Apple Crisp Baked Apples

After heading to the local orchard, come home and bake a dessert that blends two fall treats: baked apples stuffed with apple crumble topping.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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