Don’t Give Up on Produce This Winter: Know Your Seasonal Picks
By Julia Benson
Your summer garden season has ended, but don’t give up on fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies just yet. Even though today’s grocery stores stock most fruits and vegetables year-round, that doesn’t mean they are in peak season or naturally harvested. If you’re purchasing produce that isn’t naturally in season your grocery bill will show they come at a high cost. Health experts also suggest out-of-season produce doesn’t pack the same punch in nutrients as fresh, in-season produce offers. To help you find what’s fresh-RE/MAX created a list of winter produce purchases that add zest and variety to your winter meals.
As cool season vegetables, dark leafy greens can be grown through fall and into the winter in the northeast or northwest regions of the U.S. Leafy greens produced in those areas tend to taste better once exposed to frost. Many of these vitamin-packed varieties, including lettuce, arugula and spinach grow fast in the fall. Be quick to use harvested dark leafy greens because they have a shorter shelf life.
Many winter dishes include brussel sprouts for good reason: their peak season picks up in the fall through early winter. These smaller versions of cabbage are great to use as a side dish and can easily be stored for a few weeks after purchasing. You may see some of the outer leaves start to die, but removing them before cooking should leave plenty of these nutrient-rich little gems.
This fall fruit grows all summer to be picked at the peak of freshness once fall arrives. Purchasing apples in the winter is almost a guarantee that you will be getting the freshest apples available. Look for signs that state “new crop” to ensure that your apples were recently picked from the orchard and aren’t last year’s harvest. Choose firm apples that are shiny and bright to make sure the freshest apples are added to your winter dishes.
Although these beauties are harvested during the late summer, their ability to stay fresh for a long amount of time makes them an easy choice for winter produce. Potatoes are known for their long shelf life and are used all over the world for this reason. Store them in a dark, cool and dry area of the kitchen to keep them from aging. Use them as a main or side dish in plenty of winter recipes.
This tasty veggie is also known for its ability to keep all through winter. Onions are a great way to add flavor into a dish and sneak in a vegetable for picky eaters. They provide a lot of fiber and Vitamin C to winter diets and can help reduce cholesterol levels. Store onions in a cool and dry part of the kitchen to support their long-lasting qualities. Consider storing them individually, without touching other onions, to give them an even longer shelf life.
Gourds are a great winter produce option that won’t spoil easily. Varieties like butternut and acorn squash are popular in many fall and winter soups and stews. Winter squash continues to ripen after they are picked so make sure to store them in a cool environment that is slightly humid. These vitamin-packed varieties are available from fall through late winter making them a prime option for adding freshness to your winter dishes.
Look for citrus to hit markets right around the end of the year. The southern climates of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California make oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit ample during this time.
Get picky about your seasonal produce-thanks to our southern growers you can still grab the freshest fruits and vegetables, like winter citrus, to add flavor and nutrients to your cold-weather meals. Visit the RE/MAX blog for more tips on house and home this winter season.
Julia Benson takes everything she does in the garden as an edible science project. She loves to experiment with different growing techniques to try to cultivate the most delicious and nutritious food she can.