January 20, 2010
When produce is ripe off the vine, it has more flavor and nutrition than when it is shipped across continents. Fruits and vegetables are more plentiful in warmer, desert areas since those regions often have more than one growing season.
If you live near the ocean, seafood is plentiful but buying in season is still important for freshness - the most important factor in seafood flavor. In some cases, off-season means not disrupting reproductive patterns by fishing. Seasons don't usually apply to farmed fished, but for the "wild caught" that most chefs prefer, what's leaping is the most desirable.
To get the most nutrition and flavor from your favorite healthy recipes, you need to know what's in season where and when. The list below serves as a general guide for North America to help you dine in synch with Mother Nature.
Fruits & Veggies: Beets, broccoli, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, escarole, grapefruit, kale, kiwi, leeks, lemons, oranges, pomegranate, pommelos, potatoes, radish, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, spinach, sunchokes, tangerines, turnips, winter squash.
Seafood: Black cod and North Atlantic cod, Dover sole, Gulf flounder, petrale sole, crabs, oysters, scallops.
Fruits & Veggies: Artichokes, asparagus, bananas, fennel, kiwis, kumquats, mushrooms, peas, spinach, spring onions, mangos, melons, peaches, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberries.
Seafood: Crawfish, halibut (March), Pacific Coast clams, oysters, soft shell crabs (April/May).
Fruits & Veggies: Avocado, apples (late), apricots, bell pepper, beets, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, chard, cherries, chilies, corn, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, garlic, grapes, green beans, green onions, herbs, lettuce, limes, melons, okra, onion, peas, peaches, peppers, plums, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, scallions, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, zucchini.
Seafood: Anchovy, ling cod, California halibut, crawfish, King salmon, white sea bass, grass shrimp, soft shell crabs (August/September), spot prawns, swordfish (August).
Fruits & Veggies: Apples, artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, cranberries, fava beans, figs, horseradish, kale, leeks, lettuce, limes, mushrooms, parsley, parsnips, pears, persimmons, pomegranate, pumpkin, rapini, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash.
Seafood: Anchovy, Gulf flounder, luvar, opah, oysters,, steel-head, shark, white seabass, spiny lobster, swordfish, Dungeness crab (November).
Fruits & Veggies: Carrots, collard greens, herbs, lettuce, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sorrel, spinach, thyme, watercress.
Seafood: Albacore, mackerel, mahi-mahi , smelt, sardine, sand dab, sole, squid, , swordfish, tuna, wahoo (ono).
To find out exactly what is in season in your hometown, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council's site, enter your state and the month of the season.
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