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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
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty
    March 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

    This post is a perfect example of why your blog is one of my very favorites. I always learn something new, and the work and thought you put into your posts is so apparent.

    Thanks so much for teaching me a ton this morning. Such a great selection of fresh spring recipes to choose from, too.

    And freakin’ YAY SPRING! Bring it on!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Aw, thank you! Sometimes I worry that people are going to be like, “Hey, this is not a recipe post!” and unsubscribe in anger, but it’s nice to have a break from recipe development and food styling. 🙂

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    March 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Love this! Pinned!

  • Reply
    esther
    March 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for this wonderful guide! It’s snowing here in NYC – spring can’t come fast enough! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      You know, I saw everyone’s pictures of snow today and I felt a tiny bit jealous. I grew up in the Midwest and while I don’t miss ALL the snow, I’d be happy to get a few inches once or twice each winter. 🙂 Maybe not at the end of March, though!

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    March 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    What a fabulous resource! Good to know that the smaller strawbs are usually sweeter, too 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      I grow the tiniest strawberries you’ve ever seen in my garden and they taste like candy. 🙂

  • Reply
    trisha
    March 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Its spring here! And this is a wonderful post, I am going to bookmark!

  • Reply
    Jackie @ The Beeroness
    March 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I love spring produce! Especially the fresh peas. Even though shelling them is a pain, it’s so worth it.

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    March 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This is fantastic! I pinned it, and now you have me eagerly anticipating the arrival of rhubarb!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 19, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      I’m trying to grow my own this year because Chris loves it so much. We’ll see how that works out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Freda Love Smith
    March 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you so much, this is just what I needed. I can’t wait for asparagus!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      We’re already getting asparagus here–I was so excited to see it at the grocery store! Like, waaaaay more excited than any reasonable person should be.

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Greek Vegetarian
    March 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Thank you Kiersten for such a wonderful post. I love your lists and how much effort you put into bringing them together. It’s a shame that Spring in Australia is another SIX MONTHS AWAY but I will definitely be pinning this for future reference!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Well, fall has lots of delicious vegetables too! 🙂

  • Reply
    Maria Tadic
    March 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I can’t wait for spring produce! Quick cooking and delicious – the best!

  • Reply
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl
    March 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    What an awesomely informative post. I have several of my favorite fresh produce items to look forward to this Spring! 🙂

  • Reply
    Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
    March 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Such a great guide, I will definitely refer to this when spring produce comes around! It just makes me a little sad how early you’ll get everything, our peak season for almost all of those items starts about 2 months later than yours (asparagus starts in May, strawberries start in June, etc.) .. no fair!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      I’m sorry! I am definitely spoiled living here in the south. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    March 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I can’t wait to try rhubarb this year – I had a pie last year that was out of this world. And strawberries! Don’t even get me started. I’ll let those make up for my hatred for radishes!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      I need to try radishes again. I’ve heard they can be roasted, which is intriguing…

  • Reply
    Mum's the word
    March 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    thank you for always presenting everything so neatly and clearly! I’m learning a lot each time I read your blog!!

  • Reply
    Alaine @ My GF & DF Living
    March 19, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    This is so helpful and perfect!! I just wish it would warm up a bit so it would seem like spring!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Yeah, we’re in that in between time now with alternating warm & cold days. I just want it to stay warm!

  • Reply
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    March 20, 2013 at 1:49 am

    I was happy to have everything you mentioned already in San Francisco. It was difficult to get it in Berlin though. I am so happy for spring and all it’s goods.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Me too! We don’t have everything in season here yet, but I’ve seen lots of asparagus, peas, and artichokes at the grocery store lately so the rest will be here soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ronnie Fein
    March 20, 2013 at 7:27 am

    informative post

  • Reply
    JJ - 84thand3rd
    March 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

    What a great resource list! I’m already missing summer and all the wonderful fruit as we move into autumn here. Thanks for including my Rhubarb Spread.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      No problem! I’m trying to grow my own rhubarb this year, so hopefully I will be making it one of these days. 🙂

  • Reply
    McKel | Nutrition Stripped
    March 20, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Great post Kiersten! Very informative and great tips on buying the produce 😉

  • Reply
    a farmer in the dell
    March 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Wonderful post! we need to get you out to our farm one of these days 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      That would be amaaaaazing! It’s been so long since I visited the West Coast–I am seriously overdue.

  • Reply
    [email protected], pleasure, and health
    March 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    printing this guide NOW!

  • Reply
    Alissa N
    March 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    You are amazing, this guide is so awesome!!

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    March 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Awesome guide! Looking so forward to spring! It may be the first day of spring today, but it was -25’F here today and we have SO much snow. Not impressed!!!! *haha*

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Well, now I feel terrible for complaining about it being in the 50s this week. 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel
    March 20, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Great list. I need you with me when I go shopping.

  • Reply
    JulieD
    March 21, 2013 at 12:48 am

    What a great guide, Kiersten! I can’t wait!

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