What's in Season: Spring Edition

For many people, springtime means fresh salads and strawberry shortcakes. For others, it’s beet hummus and pickled radishes. No matter your diet or culture, there are many benefits of looking for produce that’s in season in your area.

Though we’d never dismiss frozen foods, there’s nothing like some fresh apricot jam or rhubarb pie to lighten your spirits and ring in the spring. A few additional perks of shopping in-season include:

  • It’s easier to support local farms.
  • It’s more sustainable than having produce shipped from abroad.
  • Seasonal produce is often cheaper and more accessible than crops grown out-of-season.

However, if you don’t live in a town with an abundant farmer’s market, it can be hard to know what is in season when. Below are a few of the primary fruits, vegetables and herbs you can find from March through May:

Arugula – Because arugula is harvested when it’s young and only takes about five weeks to grow, this leafy green becomes widely available as soon as the weather starts to warm.

Kohlrabi – This often-overlooked crop is available year-round, with its peak season landing around mid-spring. It can be roasted, served raw or even turned into fritters.

Strawberries – Though traditionally a “summer” fruit, strawberries can be grown across the country from January to November and generally peak between May and June.

Carrots – Depending on your region, you can find these sweet root veggies in farmer’s markets as early as May. Consider tossing them in a salad or roasting them with some seasonal herbs.

Asparagus – Growing up to two inches a day, asparagus plants are relatively quick producers. You can usually find this crop from March through June, with harvest peaking around April.

Spinach – This popular crop is often planted in late winter or early spring and can be available as soon as April in most cool climates. To mix it up, try it in a salad with strawberries and poppy seed dressing.

Apricots – California produces approximately 85 percent of the country’s apricots, so that’s your best bet for finding them in the spring months. However, they become more widely available in June.

Peas – April and May are the peak months for this cool-season vegetable. Due to its short season, many opt for frozen options during the off months.

Rhubarb – Available in many places year-round, rhubarb's primary harvest season is April through June. You might recognize this tart “fruit” from many dessert recipes, though it’s technically a vegetable.

Cherries – In warmer regions, you can start indulging in fresh, local cherries as early as May, with harvest generally extending through the end of August.

Lettuce – Though it’s often planted in early spring, lettuce can be harvested as early as May in many states (or even earlier in warmer climates).

Fava Beans – From late March through June, fava beans can be found in most places across the country. Rich in both protein and antioxidants, these legumes can be sautéed or mixed in a salad.

Morels – Not all mushrooms are limited to the fall! Morel season typically runs from late March through May, as soon as the soil starts to warm up.

Radishes – April is the peak harvest time for radishes, as they’re often ready to harvest as little as three weeks after planting.

Artichokes – We might treat them like vegetables, but artichokes are actually the bud of a plant in the thistle family. The first crop of artichokes is usually available between March and May with the second harvest occurring in the fall.

Grapefruit – Like many other citrus fruits, you can find grapefruit from late December through May in most states. Note that they're most abundant in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas.

Turnips – Available year-round with a peak in early spring, this root vegetable is commonly harvested around March. Not only are turnips loaded with fiber and vitamins, but they’re also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Herbs and Spices – Mint, oregano, parsley and thyme can all be found in the spring months in many areas. Those who live in southern states or on the East Coast can also enjoy cilantro and sage this time of year.

It’s important to note that this list is by no means exhaustive. In temperate climates, you’re likely see an abundance of herbs and root vegetables while tomatoes, bok choy and other warm-season crops may start to make an appearance in places like Florida and Arizona. Consider using the Seasonal Food Guide to get more information on what’s in season in your specific state.

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