Spring is here and warmer weather is on the horizon. This time of year means many things to people, but those of us who enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables know that Spring means a bounty of farm-fresh produce is about to hit shelves everywhere from roadside stands and farmers markets to local grocery stores.
With such an incredibly diverse and delicious harvest of fruits and vegetables hitting markets in the coming weeks and a plethora of great recipes to choose from, walking into your local market could easily become overwhelming.
Below you will find a comprehensive guide to our five favorite fruits and veggies coming this spring to help ease your fears about the incredible profusion of produce coming your way.
When you walk into the farmers market in early spring you will likely be greeted by row after row of plump, juicy strawberries in those blue-green baskets that are begging you to take them home. Something special occurs when you take that first bite of a sweet spring strawberry bursting with sumptuous sugar – you want more. Strawberries are a staple fruit in the American diet and on average, Americans eat three and a half pounds of fresh berries per year.
Trying to get back into shape after a long winter hibernation? Strawberries are a great addition to your smoothies and salads, and a great choice for a late-night snack if you don’t want to reach for the cookie jar. If you don’t care one bit about a calorie count then Strawberries can make just about any desert you can think of even better.
Interesting Fact: Strawberries are not actually members of the berry family like blackberries and grapes. They don’t meet botanist’s technical standards because they wear their seeds on the outside, where to be considered a berry, the seeds need to be on the inside.
Growers Tip: Plant your strawberries in late winter, early spring, or when you know the temperature won’t dip below 25 degrees. Also, make sure they’re in a located in an area receiving full sunlight, strawberries love the sun!
Looking for something delicious? We recommend this amazing Strawberry Dream Cake recipe!
Few vegetables on the market are more divisive than asparagus. People either love it or love to hate it. That said, asparagus is one of the healthiest veggies out there and when done right, can be absolutely delicious and one of the best side-dishes to any spring meal. Regardless of your taste for the asparagus, two things are certain:
- You’re about to see a ton of it in markets and grocery stores from coast to coast
- Asparagus is and will always be one of the most nutritious veggies out there
What makes the asparagus so beneficial to your health? There are many factors at play, but the biggest is the sheer amount of nutrients packed into each stalk. Asparagus is an excellent source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Not to mention the laundry list of micronutrients and antioxidants that help with everything from fighting cancer to boosting brain function. Pound for pound (or ounce for ounce?), this veggie is definitely a King of Spring.
Interesting Fact: Asparagus is a plant that requires patience to grow. In fact, it takes three years before you can begin harvesting asparagus that has the same size and shape as the typical stalks you see in the store.
Growers Tip: Although it takes years to go from garden to table, once your viable stalks are ready to eat, they will continue coming back every spring for up to 15 years! The key to asparagus is to keep the plants in a healthy, weed-free environment with healthy soil.
For an amazing side dish, check out this simple 4/4 star Roasted Garlic Asparagus recipe!
What began as a strange green alligator-skinned curiosity turned into an American love affair with the avocado. To this day the avocado remains one of America’s favorite super foods. But despite its popularity, the avocado remains one of the most misunderstood foods in our produce sections. For instance, did you know that the avocado is not a vegetable, but is actually a fruit? Yes, the main ingredient in your guacamole is actually a member of the berry family!
This amazing berry is one of the most nutritious fruits on the market due to its high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (the good fats) which have natural anti-inflammation and anti-cancer properties. Add in a ton of fiber, antioxidants, and a healthy serving of protein, and you have yourself one of the best-tasting and guilt-free super foods on the market.
Next time you’re eating your guacamole, Eggocado, or California rolls, do yourself and your heart a favor and go back for seconds.
Interesting Fact: California produces a whopping 90% of the avocados sold in the United States, but Mexico is the largest exporter of the fruit worldwide.
Growers Tip: Next time you’re making prepping avocado for a delicious meal or snack, think twice before throwing away the pit because you can actually grow your own avocado tree from the pit in your back yard. Check out this article to learn how to grow your own avocado tree!
We couldn’t limit our recommendations to one amazing recipe so we decided to give you our top three! Try an authentic Guacamole recipe, a spicy jalapeno Guacamole, or this amazing Fully Loaded Guacamole. Enjoy!
Can you believe that the blueberry that we know and love today has only been around for 101 years? Before 1916, the only way for you to make blueberry muffins or pancakes was to go pick wild blueberries in the woods.
The blueberry has grown wildly in popularity in recent years due to its status as a “super food” that’s brimming with free radical fighting antioxidants. The term “super food” gets thrown around a lot these days, but the blueberry is one of the few fruits and veggies that is worthy of the distinction. Along with the high antioxidant count, blueberries are rich in Fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese, making them very effective at protecting cells against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Not only is it one of the healthiest fruits in your produce section or farmers market, but it’s also one of the most delicious. From parfaits and salads to pies and bagels, the blueberry is incredibly versatile and, generally speaking, makes all desserts and breakfast items taste even better.
Interesting Fact: The blueberry is the state fruit of New Jersey, but the state the produces the most blueberries is Maine. In fact, Maine produces more blueberries than anywhere else in the entire world!
Growers Tip: Blueberry bushes are beautiful plants that grow best in acidic soil environments with lots of sun. They do not need to be strictly confined to garden areas, and in fact, blueberry bushes make great additions to edible landscapes and will look just as beautiful in your front yard as they would in a traditional landscape.
You definitely need to check out this amazing Blueberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese recipe!
When March comes around every year, you can be sure that the California artichoke farmers are beginning their busy season. Virtually all of the artichokes produced and consumed in the United States come from California, meaning the hearts in your spinach and artichoke dip are 100% Made in America.
But when the artichokes arrive in your local stores and farmers markets from California, how do you know which ones are ripe and ready for cooking? For the uninitiated, mastering the artichoke takes time, but the end results are always tasty. When choosing your artichokes, look for the following so you know that it’s ripe:
- Artichokes with closed heads and compact layers are the freshest
- The artichoke should be firm
- If it seems heavy for its size, it’s a keeper
Once you have your artichoke in hand the next step is to get to the heart, however, this is easier said than done because artichokes are known for their spiny thorns that can and will prick you if you don’t know what you’re doing. To get to the heart without spiking yourself, we recommend this step-by-step guide to help you along the way.
Interesting Fact: The artichoke heart that we eat is actually a flower bud that hasn’t bloomed yet. Artichoke flowers are typically purple, blue, or violet in color when they’re in full bloom, however, they are usually eaten before they can get to this point!
Growers Tip: They key to a great artichoke harvest is water. In order to get those juicy, flavorful buds come harvest time, you want to keep the plants soil consistently moist. Few things cause artichoke plants to fail more easily than drought or periods of dryness.
This Artichoke and Spinach Dip French Bread recipe is overflowing with cheesy goodness just the way we like it.
If you thought the spring guide was great, make sure to check out the Hungry Gardener’s Guide to the Fall Harvest!