Eat Seasonal and Save: When to Buy Fresh Produce Year-Round
Consumers who buy produce during its growing season get the freshest ingredients, best flavor, most nutrition, and lowest prices. Supporting local farmers also helps nurture a healthy agricultural community nationwide. Every season has a bounty of fruits and vegetables on which to base creative and classic meals. It can even become a fun personal challenge to see how many seasonal ingredients can be included in each meal. Consider preserving and freezing some of the produce from particularly short harvest seasons, and when prices drop, to keep a variety of options on hand. Here are some of the best offerings from each season.
Corn is a high-yielding plant, creating a surge of product that lowers prices dramatically at harvest time. Ears of sweetcorn can be cooked several ways, including grilling, boiling, roasting, or even microwaving. Loading up summer meals with corn is a cheap way to provide nutrition and flavorful seasonal meals to any size group.
Ripe persimmons barely resemble the hard, vaguely red fruit that is sometimes on offer in the exotic fruit section of the grocery store. Soft, almost mushy, and brightly hued, ripe persimmons are nature's candy, lusciously sweet with unique aromas. Aside from being enjoyed as a delicacy on their own, they can be used in baked goods or dried into homemade fruit snacks.
The beginning of fall is apple season, when prices are lowest. Eaten as a grab-and-go snack, apples provide a boost of healthy natural sugar and energy, plus a range of other vitamins. But fall's abundance also makes apples an economical choice for pies, homemade apple sauce, and a variety of other homemade treats.
This underrated winter root vegetable has been a cheap staple of the American diet for well over a century. The starchy and slightly sweet bulb is similar to a potato when cooked, though with a slightly firmer texture. Cheaper than potatoes, turnips can be prepared in the same way -- baked, roasted, fried, or even mashed. The neutral flavor makes them an welcome filler for soups and stews.
This large white radish looks like a giant albino carrot and can be found at farmers markets for most of the season. Low price and versatility make daikon a popular seasonal vegetable to enjoy raw, including in salads and crudite platters. Generally served shredded or spiralized into noodles, daikon retains its crunch and mild flavor in any form, adding freshness to otherwise heavy dishes. It can also be made into impressively shaped garnishes to spruce up holiday platters.