Fall brought so much produce after the warmer months. A lot of those carry over into winter and bring more fruits and vegetables with it.
To figure out what’s in season in your area, look for what’s on sale and what’s locally grown. Most grocery stores state the state or country of origin next to the price. If you want to get the most nutritious and best tasting food, go to your nearest farmers market.
Regardless of where you’re buying your winter produce, here’s a guide to in-season, nutrient dense produce to use in your meals. Seasonality varies across the country, so do some research to check what’s growing in your area.
Citrus: The cold of winter brings a bright hit of citrus. A variety of oranges come into season during the winter, from peelable mandarins, tangerines and satsumas to blood oranges, cara caras, and the classic Navel. Larger citrus like grapefruits and pummelos are also in season this time of year. Check your area to see which varieties are available in your area.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber and folate. Grapefruits are also an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A and fiber. Pummelos are also an excellent source of vitamin C.
How to Enjoy: Whichever citrus you choose or find, they’re all great to snack on raw. You can juice them with a juicer to add into drinks or cook with. Thin slices of raw citrus with the peel are great to add on top of roasts, in drinks, and even desserts. You can also peel them and toss them in with a salad or side for a nice bright kick to any dish. Buy organic varieties of your citrus, especially if you’re going to use the peels.
Persimmons: These bright orange fruits come in season October and last through February. There are two major varieties: fuyu and hachiya. Fuyus look like small, orange tomatoes and are crunchy, similar to an apple. Hachiyas are much larger and are ready when soft and pudding-like. Persimmons are high in fiber and vitamin A and are a good source of vitamin C and manganese.
How to Enjoy: Fuyus are great to snack on, whole or sliced. They bring a nice crunch to salads and slaws or sprinkled over top oatmeal. Both Fuyu and Hachiya varieties are great for baking, making jams or sauces, or adding a sweet touch to a soup. They’re great roasted as a dessert or a sweet side dish. Because this is a thin-skinned fruit with skin you eat, buy organic persimmons.
Cabbage: A hearty winter leafy green, cabbage comes in full force in the late fall and winter. Cabbage is high in water content, as well as vitamin C and K. There a few varieties of cabbage you could find in your area. In addition to the classic light green variety, there’s also a red variety, as well as other green varieties like Savoy and Napa cabbage.
Napa cabbage is most commonly associated with making kimchi, and Savoy cabbage is common for wrapping, stuffing and cooking in the oven.
How to Enjoy: Finely chopped, cabbage is great as a slaw to eat as a side or to add on top of tacos. You can add cabbage into stir-frys, soups and curries. You can also steam the leaves for 2-3 minutes and then use the leaf as a wrap. Cabbage is also great roasted in wedges with some tahini or dressing drizzled on top to serve. Cabbage is also the basis of sauerkraut, which you can make at home and get loads of benefits from.
Radicchio and Endive: Both members of the chicory family, endive and radicchio are great leafy additions to any winter meal. Endive appears starting in November and radicchio peak season starts in January. Depending on where you live, you could have access to local radicchio and endive all year round. Radicchio is high in vitamin K. Endive is amazing source of folate, vitamin K and A, fiber, and manganese. It’s a good source of vitamin C, protein, zinc, calcium, and iron.
How to Enjoy: Both radicchio and endive are great to enjoy with dips and use to plate appetizers in. You can also enjoy them in salads, roasted, or grilled. Radicchio can also be steamed and used as a wrap. Endives have a very neutral flavor, while radicchio has a slight bitterness.
Leeks: Leeks, which look like giant spring onions, come in season starting in October and last until spring. Unlike spring onions, you do not eat the top green part, only the light green and white portion. They’re a good source of vitamin K, vitamin A and manganese.
How to Enjoy: Leeks can be used in place of an onion in any recipe. Leeks are wonderful roasted or braised, whether whole or cut into rounds. They work well in soups, side dishes, and risottos. They tend to keep a lot of dirt in them, so make sure to thoroughly wash them.
Fennel: Classified as an herb, fennel comes into peak season in fall and winter. It’s a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. It has a slight licorice flavor and smell that makes it a distinct addition to your fall dishes. You can also use fennel seeds as a spice or in find it in tea blends. They’re popular in Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
How to Enjoy: Thinly sliced fennel adds a great crunch to any salad or side dish. Fennel is also a great vegetable to pickle and works well in a slaw. Fennel is great for roasting with other root vegetables, adding into soups, and pairing with hearty main dishes. The fronds (the small wipsy greens at the end of the stalks that look similar to dill) are also nice to use as a garnish on your dish. Most recipes call for the bulb, but all parts of fennel (stalks, fronds, bulb) are edible.
Collards: This broad-leafed green comes into season towards the end of the year and lasts until mid spring. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, K, C and folate. They’re also a good source of manganese, fiber, calcium. Because collards are a leafy vegetable, choose bunches grown organically or not sprayed.
How to Enjoy: Collards are best enjoyed cooked or steamed. They can be used interchangeably with Swiss chard and kale in recipes. It’s hearty, like kale, so if you’re sauteeing it up, it will take a little longer than other greens like spinach and Swiss chard. It’s heartiness makes it great in slow cooker meals and soups. Collards can be quickly steamed and also work as a wrap.
Parsnips: A creamy white or ochre colored root, parsnips come into season in the fall and last until the spring. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamin c, folate and manganese. They have a neutral to light flavor and slightly smoother texture than its root cousin, the carrot.
How to Enjoy: Parsnips can be used in place of carrots. They’re great roasted, as part of a side dish or on their own. Depending on how you season them, chopped or sliced parsnips could become savory fries or sweet chips. Parsnips can also be turned into a puree/mash and be a great mashed potato swap. Parsnips can also be grated up and formed into a pizza crust or formed into a fritter and pan fried in coconut oil. Like their carrot cousins, they would also work great spiralized and turned into vegetable noodles. Parsnip has a mild flavor, so if you’re more adventurous, you could also bake with them.
Eating a variety of these fruits and vegetables will give you a greater depth of nutrients and flavors to enjoy and benefit from this winter. Whether you try new produce or new ways of enjoying them, integrate as many of these as you’d like this season. Add one or two into your menu a week as you get more familiar with how you like to cook and enjoy them. You can also have fun combining these fruits and vegetables for even more seasonal dishes and meals.
Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Second Photo Credit: Maria Uspenskaya/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Shulevskyy Volodymyr/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Ekaterina Kondratova/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: Ahanov Michael/shutterstock.com