Have you ever bitten into a fresh fruit, only to find it doesn’t taste the way you expected? Or found summer fruits sold in your local chain supermarket in the dead of winter?
Rather than buy fruits and vegetables that may be out-of-season for a higher cost and an off-season taste, taste the seasons in your locality at the farmers market. Eating seasonal produce allows you to enjoy each fruit and vegetable in its natural harvest time. Who knows, you may just open up your palate and discover a new fruit that you never knew you were missing.
Let’s Spring Into It!
Since spring is a time for new beginnings, it’s the perfect time to start a new habit. Ease into a new food ritual by reconnecting with what you eat and how you nourish your body. To get started, here’s a brief guide to picking a few types of unique, seasonal produce:
Who doesn’t enjoy freshly cut pineapple at brunch or even barbecued on skewers? Though pineapple only grows in tropical weather, you can find it available year round.
Health Benefits: With high amounts of manganese, thiamin (a B vitamin) and fiber, it’s no wonder pineapples are a superfood.
Peak harvest: Hawaiian pineapples peak in April and may while Caribbean varieties have two seasons: December through February and August through September.
How to pick: Select fruit that is firm and feels heavy for its size with green leaves in its crown. Scent is an excellent indicator of ripeness. Store in the fridge to keep longer. For the freshest taste, buy pineapple the day you want to eat it. To remove the crown, twist it, instead of cutting it off.
Originally from Southeast Asia, Rambutans can look intimidating because of their spiky exterior, but they are actually delicious and taste like a sweet and slightly tart grape. (Also, the “spikes” are actually soft and flexible so there’s no harm in holding the fruit.) To eat, use your fingers or a knife to cut into and peel away the outside and you’ll find white, tender fruit inside. Rambutans can be eaten out of hand, but beware of the pit – it’s not edible!
Health benefits: Just 3.5 oz. of Rambutan has 66% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. On top of that, it’s a good source of copper, which has been proven to assist in hair growth and promotes collagen and elastin production, helping skin regeneration.
Peak harvest: Late spring to summer
How to pick: Select firm rambutans with a bright red exterior and hairs; green and yellow hairs are also acceptable, but completely green fruit is unripe. Avoid fruit that is brown or black in color, as it shows they’re overripe.
(pronounced awn-ju) Also known as the European Pear, Anjou pears originated in Belgium, but were named after a northwest region in France. Anjou Pears are egg-shaped, and come in both red and green. Their taste is sweet and very juicy with a citrus flavor, which makes them great for salads, baking or on their own, as a snack.
Health Benefits: Anjou pears are low in calories but high in fiber, making them a good snack to stave off hunger.
Peak harvest: October to June
How to pick: For this pear, color doesn’t indicate ripeness. Check if the pear is ready by pressing your thumb into the “neck” (or top of the fruit, toward the stem). If the pear gives, it’s ready to eat. Storing in the fridge will slow the ripening process and prolong shelf life.
Native to South and Western Asia and Africa, figs were considered to be delicacy in Ancient Egypt. Figs have a distinct, sweet and soft, chewy texture with crunchy edible seeds.
Health Benefits: Figs are a great source of fiber; just 100 grams contains 10 of the 25-38 grams of fiber recommended daily. Figs are also an antioxidant and mineral-rich fruit, high in calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
Peak Harvest: Summer to Autumn for fresh figs, but dried figs are available year-round.
How to Pick: If choosing fresh figs, select tender, plump figs deep in color without bruises. Fresh figs should be eaten within a couple days and should not be washed until ready to eat.
Dried figs should be soft and mold-free; they can be stored in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.
Whether you’re blending them in a smoothie, tossing them into a spinach salad, or slicing them on your morning cereal, there’s nothing like fresh-picked sweet strawberries!
Health benefits: Strawberries are a great source of antioxidants and fight cancer, bad cholesterol and even wrinkles! They are also a good source of fiber and help in weight management.
Peak harvest: April to July
How to pick: Pick shiny, firm, bright red fruit with caps intact. Avoid wrinkled, mushy or leaky berries. The key is to keep strawberries cold and dry, so store them in the fridge and don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat.
are a type of Navel Orange with a beautiful red or pink-orange colored flesh. Because they are lower in acid, they have a tangy but sweeter, more complex taste than your average orange. It has been said that these particular oranges have hints of cherries, blackberries, even roses.
Health Benefits: Perfect for snacking, just one Cara Cara Oranges has 150% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C! They’re also high in folate (good for those trying to get pregnant), potassium and Vitamin A, which is good for vision.
Peak Harvest: December to April
How to pick: Look for those which are firm, shiny, and heavy for their size. Avoid fruit with soft spots or blemishes. Keep them in a cool spot on the counter or store in the fridge to extend their shelf life.
For more information of the health benefits of various fruits, check out Livestrong.com