Eating seasonally is an environmentally beneficial and physiologically healthy way to enjoy the fresh produce in your community. Although many places in the world can grow several types of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year, many parts of the United States mainland can only grow certain crops in the fall and winter. Use our winter harvest guide to find out what fruits and veggies are best to enjoy at this time of year.
Tips on where to buy your produce
To ensure the freshness and nutrient density of your fresh produce, it’s best to buy it at a farmers market or directly from a CSA, farm or other local food growing operation. Each vegetable and fruit has an opportune harvest window, and an experienced and motivated organic farmer will know when to harvest what to make sure you have tender and tasty produce.
Many vegetables and fruits suffer through frosts and are not as enjoyable if harvested after an overnight freeze, whilst others finish their ripening through a frost. Knowing some of the environmental and physiological cues for vegetable harvests will help you determine when to look for a particular fruit or vegetable at your local farm stand.
Some brassicas, such as cabbage, cauliflower and hardy varieties of kale, can withstand frost. Light overnight freezes will actually sweeten these crops, as the cold snap signals the plant to produce as much sugar as possible before it’s lifecycle is over. In areas with milder winters, these crops can be grown throughout the winter, or grown in a hoop house or greenhouse in areas with colder winters.
Some root vegetables can over winter in the ground if they are properly mulched. Root vegetables are a staple in many winter recipes, as they are hearty, warming and full of essential minerals and vitamins that keep us healthy through the cold season. Look for firm, smooth skinned root vegetables such as potatoes, beets, turnips, rutabaga and parsnips and store them in a cool and dark environment.
Squash is the ultimate autumn harvest crop, but can keep just fine up to a year on a shelf in a dry place with good ventilation. Winter squashes are delicious and add a wonderful flavor to many dishes such as soups, stews, and salads. Squash puree can even be used as a base for baked goods such as bread, cookies and pastries.
Late season apples, such as Sierra Beauty's and Newtown Pippin's, are perfect for salads, sauces and baking. Pomegranates and persimmons are also great for adding a bit of sweetness to your winter dishes, and often don't show up at markets until December.
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