Relatives of the peach, apricots are delicate, delicious, and highly
nutritious early summer treats. Apricots have a fairly short growing
season—about ten weeks. They can usually substitute in recipes that call for
peaches or nectarines; you can also make a wonderful fruit salsa by combining
them with peppers, onion, and a dash of cumin.
Although grapes are available year round, some varieties can only be obtained
during certain seasons (American varieties, for example, can be found only in
September and October). Toss some grapes into
Garden Chicken Salad for a tasty lunch or dinner entrée. Or have a taste of
the season with
Apple-Grape with Raspberry Pie for a special dessert.
Mangoes are probably one of the messiest fruits you'll ever eat—but their
wonderful fragrance and fantastic flavor make them well worth the effort.
Although they are not as common in the United States as they are in tropical
regions (where they are eaten in quantities as apples are here), the increasing
popularity of Caribbean and Indian cuisines are putting mangoes in the
Pineapple is available year-round, but March through June is when supplies are
at their peak. Choose a pineapple that smells sweet and is firm to the touch.
Grilled Fish with Pineapple Salsa for a delicious dinner with the feel of
the islands or
Fresh Fruit Compote for a refreshing side to any meal or a light dessert.
Delicious alone, with other kinds of fruit, or as the star of many of our
favorite Crisco recipes, fresh strawberries are a must-have this time of year.
You'll never have too many strawberries with our wonderful recipes (Strawberry
Strawberry Glazed Pie, and
Strawberry Muffins), but if you do have some extra, strawberries freeze
Since there are over 7,500 varieties, apples are in season most of the year. But
crispy fall apples are part of the joy of cooler weather. Whether you need
apples for snacks or for baking, there's a perfect apple out there.
Perfect for packing in lunches, grapes are plentiful in the fall. Look for
Thompson seedless or typical green grapes, flame seedless, and red globe
(seeded) grapes. Of course, with so many varieties, grapes are generally
Because of the many varieties of pears, they are pretty much available
year-round; however, August through October is the height of pear season.
Varieties of pears you're likely to find in your grocery store at this time of
year are Bartlett, Anjou, and Bosc.
Persimmons are native to Japan, and are as widely eaten there as oranges are
here. These beautiful orange-red fruits are available in September, and reach
their peak in November-December.
This gorgeous red fruit is available from autumn through December. There are
several varieties—the "Wonderful" being the most commonly available in the
United States. Unlike persimmons, pomegranates are picked ripe.
Autumn is the time of year when our thoughts turn to jack-o'-lanterns and
Also known as an "alligator pear" or a "butter pear," this tropical fruit is
more commonly regarded as a "vegetable" because of flavor, which tends to
complement savory dishes (unlike most fruits, the avocado loses sugar content as
or Sweet Cherries
The supply of fresh Bing cherries peaks in June and July. While sour cherries
are usually used in baking, sweet cherries are delicious on their own, or
chopped as a delightful addition to green salads. Of course, they're also
delicious in fruit salads, with yogurt, and as decorations on iced cakes or on
anything with whipped cream.
Blueberries are in season now. They're delicious fresh or in baked goods,
sprinkled over cereal and ice cream, or eaten by the handful... you get the
picture. Blueberries also freeze beautifully and are a welcome reminder of
warmer days if you save them for the dreary days of winter. We have a blueberry
recipe for breakfast: Blueberry Orange Muffins, a blueberry recipe for dessert:
Blueberry Pie, and a blueberry recipe for any time of day: Blueberry Bread.
Enjoy this year's harvest of peaches eaten fresh; sliced over breakfast cereal,
yogurt, or ice cream; in fruit salads; cooked in pies; or as the highlight of
this Seasonal Fruit Cobbler.
While watermelon has been in season since about March, it's usually about this
time of year that the glossy green rinds and sweet red flesh begin to beckon us
to indulge in this summer pleasure.
Also known as Minneola Tangelos, this tangerine-grapefruit hybrid is available
only for about three weeks in January. Medium to very large in size, these
bell-shaped, deep- to red-orange fruits are incredibly sweet and juicy (so juicy
that many growers pack bibs with customers' orders!). They are seedless, which
makes breeding and growing them very difficult (hence the very short period of
Brighten bleak winter days with a taste of the tropics! Papayas are now fairly
easy to buy all year round, thanks to their year-round growing season and easy
shipping. Try this delicious recipe for
Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing; toss in some cubed papaya for a
Bananas, unlike most fruits and vegetables, ripen best after they're picked. The
typical yellow or Cavendish variety is in season all year-a good thing
considering their popularity. See
All About Bananas
to find out more, and try these great recipes:
Banana Pudding from Mama Dip,
Banana Cream Pie,
Banana Date-Nut Bread, and
Use the pungent taste of gingerroot to add an exotic flavor to your cooking. To
use, peel the thin tan skin with a vegetable peeler, and then chop or grate as
desired. If you have extra, wrap tightly and freeze. The next time you need it
for a recipe, you can use it straight out of the freezer. Try
Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Salad for a delicious, spicy meal with ginger.
Stir-Fried Beef and Vegetables is also a wonderful addition to your dinner
Fresh basil and tomatoes are natural companions. Basil should be available at
farmer's markets in plentiful supply. Try these delicious dishes to highlight
the delicious taste of fresh basil: Slow Roasted Salmon with Pistachio Pesto,
Sweet Saki Wasabi Oil and Tunisian Carrot Mash or Garden Vegetable Sauté.
Because they are very labor intensive and require very specific climate
conditions, artichokes are not widely grown in the United States. Artichokes can
be baked, boiled, microwaved, sautéed, or steamed; you can serve them whole with
dipping sauce, or remove the choke and stuff the resulting "cup" with rice,
vegetable puree, or chicken salad.
Asparagus is another of spring's treats. Try
Grilled Asparagus for a delicious side dish.
with Asparagus is a tasty entrée or side dish, depending on your mood.
Asparagus with Citrus Dressing is a refreshing treat.
New potatoes are in season this time of year. Unlike older potatoes with thicker
skins, new potatoes are characterized by their thin skins.
Although broccoli is available year round, it's most plentiful from October
through May. For a scrumptious side dish with an Asian twist, try
Braised Broccoli with Ponzu (Japanese Citrus Sauce).
Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad reputation for being bitter, mushy, and
generally inedible when cooked. However, if you buy fresh sprouts and cook them
just to the point of tenderness, they are a delicious addition to any meal and a
nice alternative to other side dishes.
Rhubarb, also called pie plant, is one of the first vegetables to signal the
impending arrival of warmer weather. Welcome spring by trying them in
Sumptuous Strawberry Rhubarb Pie or, in a twist on the "pie plant," try
Rhubarb Cake with Spice Topping.
Spinach is legendary for its nutritional properties—it's an excellent source of
vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and folate. But don't overlook the
versatility of spinach. It can be used fresh in salads or cooked in a variety of
Sugar snap peas are wonderful lightly steamed and in dishes such as stir-fries.
They also make a great addition to vegetable platters or a crispy snack that
kids love-served raw or lightly steamed. Any leftovers make a good addition to
Turkey with Spring Vegetables calls for regular peas, but sugar snap peas
would work well too.
Fall is the height of beet season, even though they are typically available
year-round. In addition to the usual red beets, there are golden beets, white
beets, and a beautiful candy-striped beet called chioggia. Try your freshly
prepared beets in
Harvard Beets. Or, use canned beets to make
Fruited Beets or
Sweet and Sour Beets.
Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable that is overlooked in most kitchens. In most
markets in the United States, cabbage is the tight-leaf, waxy, compact "head"
that ranges in color from very light green to dark green to red. Check out the
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples.
Swiss chard, kale, and other greens are also at their best in the fall. They are
becoming very popular at restaurants and can be cooked the same way as spinach,
although they will take a little longer to become limp and tender. Our favorite
way to serve cooked greens is over pasta topped with grated Romano cheese. Or
Special Spinach recipe.
Rutabagas look like giant turnips. In reality, they are a member of the cabbage
family and are thought to be a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. They have
slightly firm flesh and can be prepared the same way as a turnip, although they
will take a little longer to cook.
Fall is the best time of year to cook spinach. The flavor is stronger than the
young and tender spinach leaves of summer, which are great for salads. After
washing the spinach, sauté it quickly with a small amount of Crisco Canola Oil
(about 1/2 tablespoon per pound) until it just becomes limp. Add a little ground
nutmeg and a clove or two of peeled garlic, cut in half. Season with salt and
pepper to taste after cooking.
Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and turnips take center stage in the
All About Sweet Potatoes.
With its majestic purple color, you might not realize that eggplant is related
to the tomato, another sun-drenched summer favorite. For preparation tips and
how to store and select these magnificent beauties, see
All About Eggplant.
Fresh green beans are the perfect highlight to many meals, especially in the
summer when they're in season and the supply is plentiful. Green beans are ideal
for steaming, cooking in the microwave, and including in many delicious recipes.
Fresh Vegetable Platter for a great snack or side dish.
Fresh Vegetable Platter or
Zesty Green Beans will also add some pizzazz to your dinner table.
There are two major categories of beans: snap and shell. Most shell beans (lima,
fava, soy, and cranberry are the four most popular varieties) are available
fresh for only a few months from late spring through early fall, so they make a
terrific addition to summer meals. Find our more in All About Shell
Straightneck and crookneck are two kinds of similarly-flavored yellow squash.
Zucchini is also part of the summer squash family, and there are also some other
lesser known varieties that might be available in the summer months. This
Vegetable Stir Fry uses both zucchini and yellow squash for a delicious
light dinner or side dish. For more see
All About Zucchini
and All About Squash.
This is the time of year tomato lovers eagerly anticipate. If not in your own
backyard, look for them at farmer's markets and roadside stands. Learn
All About Tomatoes,
and don't miss our delicious
Vinaigrette for fresh tomatoes.
"Greens" is a generic, catchall term for the leafy green parts of plants from
several different groups. They are characterized by their pungent flavors and
high nutritional content; included in this category are kale, turnip greens,
Swiss chard, beet greens, and mustard greens. Try this recipe for
Special Spinach for a tasty side to any meal.
Related to both garlic and onions, the leek is in season from winter on into
spring. Smaller leeks will be tenderer. Try
Chayotes Rellenos for a beautiful and mouth-watering dish.
Potatoes may be the ultimate in comfort food, and they're also in season this
time of year.
Chowder is memorable and tasty potato side dish. Another seasonal recipe
that's easy to prepare is
Roasted Fall Root Vegetables. Find out
All About Potatoes.
Have you ever tried winter squash? This is one of those too-often overlooked
Squash with Apples is a truly seasonal acorn squash recipe. Try
Squash Custard for an evening treat.
Button mushrooms are generally available year-round. Choose plump, clean
mushrooms that are white. For a delicious dish that highlights fresh mushrooms,