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The Seasonality of Spring Fruits and Vegetables

March 21st, 2007


If you have ever tasted the delicate flavor of the first baby lettuce of the season or have experienced the joy of standing in a backyard garden while eating early garden peas right from the pod, then you know the pleasure the first crops of Spring can bring. Truly nothing can compare with how complex, rich, and concentrated their flavors are, especially just moments after they have been harvested.

The first produce to hit the local markets is bright, colorful, and crisp, its aroma alone could almost be considered hypnotic. Strolling through the farmers market it takes quite a bit of restraint not to overfill your basket and just run with it like there is no tomorrow. Instinctively, our bodies seem to respond to this colorful array with a pent up longing for the potent vitamins and minerals that we have been lacking through most of the winter. Not surprisingly, the items you find will offer your body exactly what it needs to shake off the last of the winter blues, energizing you for the longer days ahead.

If ever there was a time to temporarily discard recipes, prepare food by instinct, and serve it closest to its natural state, this would be the time. A light splash of lemon juice, a good olive oil, and the tiniest bit of sea salt is all you need to dress a salad right now. There is no need for anything complicated, the greens which are always most tender in the spring, speak volumes all on their own. The fruit is absolutely luscious and seductive dripping with juices when you bite or cut into it. Drizzle raspberries with the tiniest bit of local honey and serve them on thin baguette slices, which have been spread with an almost sheer layer of mascarpone cheese… one of my all time favorite treats! Truly, with very little effort, it is really quite painless to eat like kings and queens when you pause from cooking and merely assemble your food.

In my part of the country, the Spring Harvest Season typically begins with gorgeous emerald green ramps and morels, soon to be followed by tender fava beans, and a delightful parade of perfect little spring peas. A rush of delectable items will follow, and it will not be long before the first tiny little bright red gem like strawberries step onto the stage, stealing the entire show. Other varieties of berries will soon follow and in no time at all our kitchen tables are laden with great big bowls of them just waiting to be transformed into jams, jellies, preserves, or anything else we might be craving at the moment. There really may be no better time to indulge!

To make planning for cooking, baking, canning, and general heady eating pleasure a little bit easier, I compiled a Spring Produce Guide. This list catalogs much of the season’s bounty in the general order it will appear in the markets. Some of the items may vary slightly from region to region and also due to climatic changes, but should still prove to be helpful as you attempt to enjoy the best the season has to offer as well as make plans to preserve it.

Happy Spring Equinox and Best Wishes for a Wonderful Season to Come!

Spring Produce Guide

Early Spring

The following items are only available in early Spring unless otherwise specified.

Baby Lettuce Mixes ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Broccoli ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Broccoli Raab ~ Early Spring and again in late Fall and Winter
Fava beans ~Through early Summer
Fennel ~Early Spring and again through Summer and Fall
Garden Peas/Petit Pois ~Through early Summer
Morels ~Maybe be found as early as late winter depending on the weather
Mustard Greens ~Early Spring and again in Fall
New Potatoes and then other varieties ~Through Summer
Radishes ~Early Spring and again in Fall
Ramps ~Also known as the Wild Leeks of the Appalachia
Snow Peas ~Through early Summer
Sugar Snap Peas ~Through early Summer

Mid Spring

The following items are only available in mid Spring unless otherwise specified.

Amaranth Greens ~Through Fall
Artichokes ~ Spring and again in early Fall
Arugula/Rocket ~Through Fall, but most tender in Spring
Carrots ~ Spring and again in late Summer
Celeriac Root
Chives ~Spring through Fall
Collards ~ Spring and again in Fall
Dandelion Greens
Fiddlehead Ferns
Garlic ~ Spring and again in Summer and early Fall
Green Onions, Sweet Onions such as Vidalias
and Other Varieties
~Through Fall
Lemons ~ Spring and again in Fall
Mangoes ~ Spring and again in Summer
Pineapple ~ Spring and again in Summer
Rhubarb ~Through Summer
Sorrel ~ Spring and again in Summer and Fall
Spinach ~ Spring and again in Fall
Turnips ~ Spring and again in Fall
Watercress ~ Spring and again in Fall

Late Spring

The following items are only available in late Spring unless otherwise specified.

Apricots ~Through mid Summer
Blueberries ~Though Summer
Boysenberries ~Through mid Summer
Cardoons ~Through late Fall
Chard ~Through Winter
Cherries ~Through early Summer
Loganberries ~ Through mid Summer
Olallieberries ~ Through mid Summer
Plums ~ Through early Fall
Pluots ~ Through early Fall
Raspberries ~Through early Fall
Strawberries ~Through early Summer

The Survivors

I call the following fruits and vegetables “Survivors” because some of the have been in the markets since early Fall, but their season is so long, that they will continue to show up in the markets until the middle to end of spring when their growing cycle comes to a close. All of these pair really well with the sensational lettuce varieties available. Combine many of them and prepare for a very colorful and multidimensional feast.

Chicories ~Mid Fall through mid Spring
Grapefruit ~Mid Fall through mid Spring
Haas Avocados (Mexico) ~Early Fall through late Spring
Kiwifruit (California) ~Late Fall through Spring
Loquats ~Late Winter through Spring
Mandarin Oranges ~Early Fall through late Spring
Pummelos ~Mid Winter through Spring
Tangarines ~Early Fall through late Spring

*Please note, I love to learn new things, so if you notice anything missing or any changes that need to be made please feel free to comment.

Buying Seasonally , ,

  1. April 17th, 2007 at 10:58 | #1

    Thanks for writing about seasonal spring produce. I was looking for a list like this as I want to try to incorporate new fruits and vegetables into my diet. I’ve bookmarked your page and will use it for reference!

  2. April 17th, 2007 at 19:57 | #2

    You’re welcome. Glad that you liked it! I created it recently when I just couldn’t find anything like it online. As the year progresses, I will also be adding Seasonal Produce Guides for Summer, Fall, and Winter as well. All of them will be updated as I too, discover new fruits, vegetables, and herbs to add to both the list and my own diet.
    Best wishes trying new things and finding new favorites!

  3. Lynda Moylan
    May 13th, 2007 at 21:46 | #3

    thankyou for your guide! I am designing a feast for my sisters wedding in Spring your list along with the the truefood network to find out about farmers markets will work well together.

  4. May 13th, 2007 at 23:56 | #4

    Spring produce can be such a pleasure to prepare, so I can only imagine how much fun it will be to plan your menu. Best wishes to your sister!

  5. Aaron
    April 16th, 2008 at 23:58 | #5

    Yes, I too was looking for a list of seasonal vegetables, as here in NYC, we can’t tell! It is the season of Passover, and I learned that one of the places on the ceremonial plate is dedicated to a green vegetable (typically parsley or lettuce) as a nod to the spring.
    So, I says, what else can we put on this spring space?
    Now I have some ideas, and will also be cooking seasonal foods for the rest of the meal.

  1. October 12th, 2009 at 14:38 | #1
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