Fruits and vegetables are at their best when they're grown and harvested in their natural seasons and don't travel too far before being gobbled up. Whether you're anticipating your favorite food or curious about what you'll find in the produce market right now, this listing of seasonal produce and their nation-wide harvest seasons will help.
Depending on your region, growing seasons and crop availability will vary. In the warmest areas, seasons start earlier and last longer. Some items like greens, carrots, beets, and radishes may be harvested year-round in the most temperate areas. In colder zones, harvest times start later and end sooner.
As temperatures begin to rise with the dawning of spring, produce begins to flourish. These early bloomers are some of the highlights of the season and most are only available during this time of year. If you're a fan of any of them, get these foods while you can!
- Fava Beans
- Garlic Scapes (Green Garlic)
- Pea Greens
- Snap Peas, Snow Peas, and Pea Pods
- Stinging Nettles
Summer is the biggest growing season of the year, regardless of where you live. You will find the biggest variety and the best fruits and vegetables during these warm months. Look for these foods in produce sections at your local grocer, farmers markets, and roadside stands. If you like to garden, any of these would make excellent additions to your homegrown crops as well.
- Boysenberries, early summer
- Cantaloupes, late summer
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), fresh in summer and dried year-round
- Chile Peppers
- Plums and Pluots
- Summer Squash
- Zucchini and Zucchini Blossoms
Autumn is a peak season for certain fruits and veggies and you'll find many of these featured at fall harvest festivals. Keep in mind that some of those summer crops extend into or are harvested in early fall, so this short selection is by no means all that you'll find in markets.
- Artichokes, early fall
Winter may be cold in some regions, but it is the peak time for citrus fruits. This is great news if you live in the north because it's like a touch of warm sunshine to get you through those chilly days.
Other fruits and veggies are available during the winter months. Most, however, span two seasons and you'll find those below.
Worldwide distribution of fresh produce has made a great variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs available year-round. Most of these are standard finds at any market no matter the season and are considered staples in the modern kitchen. Yet, for some foods, there is a peak season when you'll definitely want to pick up a few and enjoy them at their absolute best.
- Arugula, best in spring and fall
- Avocados, classically summer
- Belgian Endive, best in fall and winter
- Broccoli, best in fall and winter
- Cabbage, best in late fall and winter
- Cauliflower, best in fall and winter
- Celery, best in fall and winter
- Collard Greens
- Herbs, most varieties
- Lettuce, best in spring
- Mushrooms, cultivated
Plants do not subscribe to the standard calendar that people use to dictate seasons. It's only natural that some produce overlaps the seasons and are not strictly a one-season food.
Some produce is also grown in different regions at different times of the year. For instance, cilantro is a cool-weather herb whose season varies depending on where it's grown. In warm climates, cilantro peaks from fall through spring, while the season is spring and summer in cooler areas.
Late Spring Through Early Summer
While some produce will come into season early in spring, other foods begin to peak later in the season. These are often available through early summer, making this a prime time to pick up some fresh goodies.
- Cilantro, in cool areas
- New Potatoes
- Valencia Oranges
- Peas and Pea Pods
- Spring Onions
- Sweet Onions
Spring Through Fall
A few veggies are available from spring, through summer, and all the way into fall. These can become staples for most of the year and be used in many of your favorite recipes.
- Green Onions (Scallions)
- Mushrooms, wild
- Onions, stored in winter
Late Summer Through Fall
As the bounty of summer slows down, there's still plenty of fresh foods to enjoy. You should have no problems finding these fruits and veggies well into autumn and quite a few can be stored for most of the winter.
- Apples, cold storage until spring
- Chard (Swiss, Red, Rainbow)
- Garlic stored year-round
- Green Beans
- Sweet Peppers
- Potatoes, available from storage year-round
- Shallots, available from storage through winter
- Shelling Beans
Fall Through Spring
A variety of plants actually thrive in cooler temperatures. They begin to peak in fall and are available throughout the winter, up to spring. It's no coincidence that many of these are featured in comforting soups and stews, which are enjoyed throughout the colder months.
Fall and Winter
Whether they're tropical plants grown in warm climates or those that thrive in colder temperatures, there is a surprising array of fall and winter produce available. While some can be found year-round, they are best in these cold months and it's the perfect time to take advantage of them.
- Brussels Sprouts, late fall into winter
- Butternut Squash
- Celeriac/Celery Root
- Delicata Squash
- Kale, available year-round
- Radishes, daikon, watermelon, other large varieties
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)
- Winter Squash
Winter and Early Spring
Just like winter is a prime time for some varieties of citrus fruits, the best season for others can extend into early spring. Cardoons, a type of artichoke, are the only exception here and are best right before spring artichokes arrive.
- Navel Oranges