When it comes to buying fruits and vegetables, it's always better when you buy them in season. Not only are the flavors better, but so are the prices. What's in season now? Here's Oola's guide to Spring produce.
Note: Crops and harvest dates depend on regional climate
In warmer areas, apricots come into season towards the end of the spring (May/June).
The main artichoke harvest is in the spring (March through June), and the majority of America's crop is grown in California. Look for artichokes with closed heads, that are firm and feel heavy for their size. The leaves should form tight, compact layers.
Wild arugula is forage in the spring, while cultivated arugula is available year-round.
Spring (March through June) is the time when asparagus is harvested, depending on your region. Look for spears with compact heads and firm stalks. Thickness doesn't indicate tenderness, though. Thicker asparagus can be bitter and woody, and usually comes from a later harvest. Wrinkly, limp stalks tell you that the asparagus has been sitting on the shelf for too long.
In temperate climates, beets are in season from the fall all the way through to the spring. This earthy, sweet root vegetable comes in a variety of colors–red, pink, white, yellow, and orange. They also come in different sizes. Choose beets that are firm, smooth, and free of blemishes. If you buy beets with the leaves attached, you can use the greens in salads.
In temperate areas, carrots are harvested year-round. While true baby carrots (the immature carrots farmers pull from their fields to thin the rows) are in-season in spring and early summer.
In warmer regions, chard is harvested in fall through the spring. When the weather gets too hot, the chard turns bitter.
In warmer areas, cherries are ready to harvest at the end of spring. From May to August, you'll find Bing and Rainier cherries. In June, you can find sour cherries for a week or two. But in colder regions, you may be able to find sour cherries as late as August.
Grapefruit is grown in California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. This sweet and juicy fruit comes into season in January and is available all the way into early summer.
Many herbs are available year-round at the grocery store. But in warmer areas, they come into harvest in late spring. By the summertime, the farmer's market will be filled with fresh herbs that love hot weather, like basil, rosemary, and thyme. When buying fresh herbs, select ones with a vibrant fragrance. Also, look for leaves that are bright and uniformly colored, with crisp and firm stems.
In warmer regions of the country, Kale comes into season during the spring. This high-nutrient, flavorful vegetable is the poster child for healthy eating, and it's extremely versatile.
Kiwis that are grown on vines in temperate areas are harvested from winter through spring.
This tender, edible member of the lily family is in season during the spring. They look like an overgrown green onion (or scallion), and they have a mild onion taste with a dash of sweetness. When purchasing leeks, avoid wilted tops. Instead, look for fresh, green leaves.
Spring is the time when lemons shine and are at their juiciest. From winter all the way into early summer, this fruit is harvested for its juice and peel. Lemons thrive in mild, warm climates like Mexico and California.
In cooler climates, lettuce comes into season in the spring. In temperate and warmer climates, you'll find lettuce growing through the winter.
Morels are the first mushrooms to appear in the spring and are in season from late March through June. This delightful fungi grows wild throughout the United States but is mostly found in the Midwest and the Appalachians. Morels should never be eaten raw because they have a small amount of toxins that can only be removed through cooking.
These small potatoes with paper-thin skins are freshly harvested in the spring. They are dug up early on purpose so you can enjoy that delicate skin, the sweet flavor, and the high moisture content. New potatoes are lower in starch compared to mature ones, and they also keep their shape when cooked.
Peas of all varieties (garden, snap, snow, etc.) come into season in the spring when they are fresh and tender. Early spring garden peas are at their sweetest when they are just picked. Sugar peas, like snap and snow peas, are eaten shell and all. Other parts of the pea plant are edible, too. Young vines, called pea greens or pea shoots, are a great garnish with a sweet, grassy flavor. Pea sprouts are perfect for adding crunch to salads and sandwiches.
In the spring, you will find radishes at their sweetest and crunchiest. They come in many shapes and sizes, as well as many different forms. The classically red round radishes have leafy green tops. There are also beautiful pink and green watermelon radishes and black Spanish radishes.
The first fruit of the spring in many regions is rhubarb. The intensely tart flavor and velvety texture of this fruit when it's cooked is why it's such a popular pie filling. In fact, some places call rhubarb "pieplant."
In temperate areas, spinach is available year-round. But in warmer regions, spinach is in season from the fall through the spring.
Like true baby carrots, spring onions are in-season in the springtime when farmers pull them from the field because they need to thin their rows.
Mostly grown in Florida and California, strawberries are in-season from January through November. However, their peak season is April through June.
Turnips are technically available all year. But this root vegetable is great in the spring when it's small and sweet. It's not until the fall that you'll find more mature turnips with tougher skins that require peeling. The older turnips also tend to have a stronger flavor and can leave a bitter aftertaste.
You should be able to find the majority of the produce on this list at your grocery store or farmer's market throughout the spring and into the summer. Bon Appetit!