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A Guide to Spring Produce

A Guide to Spring Produce

A Guide to Spring Produce
In a few days, it will be the official start of spring. Spring brings with it longer days, warmer weather, and more sunshine, but for me, I’m most excited about the produce. I love winter squash and sweet potatoes (although I can’t say I’m a big fan of turnips and parsnips), but I’m so ready to start cooking with asparagus and leeks again.

So what’s in season during spring? How should you store asparagus? What can you do with radishes? I have the answers for you in this guide to spring produce!

Artichokes

Peak Season: March-May
Buying Tips: Artichokes should have tight leaves and be green with no black spots or bruises.
Storage: Artichokes spoil quickly; they’re best used within 2 days of purchase.
Preparation & Cooking: Trim tips and stem and steam in a steamer basket until tender, about 45 minutes. Serve with sauce for dipping leaves.
Recipe Ideas: Whole Wheat Black Pepper Fettuccine with Baby Artichokes, Roasted Baby Artichokes from i talk to food

Asparagus

Peak Season: March-June
Buying Tips: Asparagus tips should be tightly closed and the bottom of each spear should be green and moist, not woody.
Storage: Asparagus doesn’t last very long–it keeps in the refrigerator for a day or two at most. If you’re not using it right away, place asparagus upright in a glass of water or wrap ends in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag.
Preparation & Cooking: Snap the tough bottoms off of each asparagus spear. Asparagus is great steamed or roasted.
Recipe Ideas: Lemony Asparagus Risotto, Spring Soba Stir Fry from Vegan Yack Attack

Leeks

Peak Season: March-April
Buying Tips: Tops should be upright and green–if they’re wilted and droopy, the leeks are past their prime. Smaller leeks are more tender than the fatter ones.
Storage: Leeks should be refrigerated in the plastic bag they came in. They’ll keep for about 5-7 days.
Preparation & Cooking: The root and green parts of the leek should be trimmed and discarded–only the white and pale green part of the leek is used in cooking. Leeks have a tendency to accumulate grit between their layers, so it’s important to remove it. Cut leeks into size indicated in recipe, then transfer them to a bowl filled with ice cold water. Separate the layers and swish the leeks back and forth a few times, then allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leeks from the bowl; dry, then cook. Leeks are best sautéed or braised; they’re perfect in soups or as a substitute for onions.
Recipe Ideas: Smashed Red Potatoes & Leeks, Leek Salad with Grilled Haloumi from A Thought for Food

Peas

Peak Season: April-July
Buying Tips: All varieties of peas should be brightly colored and crisp, not dull or limp.
Storage: Peas only last a day or two in the refrigerator. They should be wrapped tightly in plastic.
Preparation & Cooking: When I was a kid, I choked on a snow pea string, so even though you don’t have to remove them before cooking, I always do. Sugar snap peas can be eaten as is, while shelling peas need to be removed from the pod–simply pull it open and remove the individual peas. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are great in stir fries, while shelling peas are perfect for adding to pasta, risottos, or spring soups.
Recipe Ideas: Peanut Udon Noodles with Snow Peas, Two-Pea Pasta with Ricotta and Tarragon from Everyday Food

Radishes

Peak Season: March-June
Buying Tips: Radishes should be firm, without any gashes or soft spots.
Storage: When refrigerated, radishes keep for up to two weeks.
Preparation & Cooking: Use a produce brush to remove any dirt from the radish’s surface. The most common use for radishes is adding them to salads, although they can be cooked too. You can also try pickling them in vinegar.
Recipe Ideas: Spring Radish Tart from The Noble Pig, Watermelon Radish and Carrots with Sesame Vinaigrette from Living Nutrition

Rhubarb

Peak Season: April-July
Buying Tips: Rhubarb should be deep red in color and stems should be firm.
Storage: Rhubarb will last up to a week when refrigerated. Store in a loose plastic bag.
Preparation & Cooking: Discard any leaves before cooking. Rhubarb is tart on its own and must be cooked with sugar or other sweeteners. It’s often paired with strawberries, another springtime favorite.
Recipe Ideas: Biscoff Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble from Buttercream & Chantilly Factory, Rhubarb & Apple Spread from 84th & 3rd

Salad Greens (Mizuna, Watercress, Arugula, etc.)

Peak Season: March-June
Buying Tips: Avoid leaves that are wilted, brown, or slimy.
Storage: Salad greens last in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Store them in the plastic bag they came in.
Preparation & Cooking: Rinse salad greens in ice cold water and use a salad spinner to dry them before serving. This will help the leaves stay crisp.
Recipe Ideas: Roasted Beets with Edamame & Arugula, Mizuna Salad with Roasted Cherries & Balsamic Glaze from For the Love of Food

Strawberries

Peak Season: April-June
Buying Tips: Giant strawberries may catch your eye at the supermarket, but the smaller strawberries are usually more tender and sweet. Strawberries should be firm, without soft spots. Unless they’re a non-red variety, they should be deep red in color–strawberries with large sections of white are not fully ripe.
Storage: Strawberries should be eaten within 2 days of purchase. They’re best stored in open paper or plastic bags. Rinsing strawberries in a diluted vinegar solution (1 cup of vinegar to 3 cups of water) will help keep them fresher longer–just be sure to dry them thoroughly before refrigerating.
Preparation & Cooking: Strawberries make a perfect topping for salads. They can be used in pies and other pastries or even roasted in the oven.
Recipe Ideas: Strawberry Banana Fruit Leather, Roasted Strawberries from Adventures of the Kitchen Ninja

Sweet Onions

Peak Season: March-June
Buying Tips: Onions should be firm and feel heavy for their size. Skin should be intact, without bruises or blemishes.
Storage: Sweet onions don’t last as long as other onions; they should be used within a week or two. Store them at room temperature in an open paper bag.
Preparation & Cooking: Because of their mild flavor, sweet onions are an ideal burger topping, either raw or grilled. They can be sautéed and added to a variety of dishes.
Recipe Ideas: Mediterranean-Style Rotini with Toasted Garlic Panko, Baked Onion Rings from Everyday Food

For more information about how long different fruits and vegetables last, be sure to check out my printable guide to fresh produce!

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    March 21, 2013 at 1:37 am

    There’s a lot more to learn about food, other than just “recipes”. This post signifies that. Thanks for sharing and I’m happy to learn more about spring produce!

  • Reply
    Karen
    March 21, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Such a lovely, informative post. (And I’d never unsubscribe because of a garden post – bring ’em on!)

  • Reply
    Anna {Herbivore Triathlete}
    March 21, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I am with you on the spring produce already! This is a super handy post, shock full of fantastic information. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kait
    March 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks for this info!! I’m so ready for Spring!!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving
    March 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Goodness, this is a lot of great info. I’m hoping to do a garden this year but more than likely it will be next year after stuff has settled down more.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      When we moved to our house, I set up a garden the first weekend–before we even had our boxes unpacked. Priorities! 😉

  • Reply
    Jennifer H
    March 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom
    March 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I’m super excited about strawberry season! We pulled most of our ailing plants (they didn’t take well to all the triple digit days last summer) out so we’re starting new ones. No crop yet unfortunately.

  • Reply
    Dianna
    April 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    This info is both helpful and timely. I always hear about eating what’s in season, but I am terrible about seeking out information about what’s in season. Plus, I’m happy to see that many of my favorites are in season right now!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      April 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      If you have a local farmers market and shop there, that’s definitely the easiest way to eat in season!

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