Fresh Produce Ideas

Fall
Learn about the fresh fruits of fall! Click an option below to learn more.
Spring
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables this spring! Click an option below to learn more.
Winter
Enjoy winter with fresh fruits and vegetables. Click an option below to learn more.
Picking Fresh Foods
Learn about why it is good to buy fruits and vegetables in season. Click an option below to learn more.

Fall 

Enjoying pears in season

Colorful pearsPears look a lot like apples and have a unique taste that is sweet and delicious. Asian pears (which are round and yellow or brown) are best eaten when they're still crispy, but most pears are better when they're ripe and juicy. Pears ripen best once they are off the tree, so you can buy them at any stage of ripeness. Keep them at room temperature until they feel a little soft and smell sweet. Once they are ripe, store them in the refrigerator. Ripe pears are excellent snacks and are also great in fruit salad or baked for a side or dessert. Try adding a sliced pear to a sandwich. However you prepare them, pears are delicious! 

Enjoy beets in season

Beets are a dark red root vegetable with an earthy, sweet flavor. They get their deep color from antioxidants, which may protect you from cancer and heart disease. Look for beets that are hard, with no soft spots. Sometimes beets still have the greens attached, which you can cook and eat just like other greens. The beets last for weeks loosely wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, although you should eat the greens within a day or two. When you're ready to cook the beets, scrub them well and leave on an inch of greens to stop the juice from leaking. Be careful with the juice because it stains. To cook beets, you can wrap them in foil and bake them; peel, cut, and roast them; boil or steam them; or grate them and make a beet "pancake." Beets are also great in salads, either raw or cooked!

Enjoying cantaloupe in season

CantaloupeYou can find local, Massachusetts grown cantaloupe in August and September. Look for sweet-smelling melons with no soft spots. Wash them before you cut them. Once they are cut, keep them in the refrigerator for a quick and juicy treat! Did you know that one cup of cantaloupes has all the Vitamin A and Vitamin C you need in a day, with only 60 delicious calories? Top a wedge with chicken salad for a light lunch, or with frozen yogurt for dessert. They are also great for smoothies and fruit skewers! 

Enjoying parsnips in season

Try eating parsnips! Parsnips are like carrots but they're white, sweeter, and have a mild earthy flavor. They also have a little more starch like potatoes. Parsnips are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Buy firm, crisp parsnips and store them in the refrigerator for up to several weeks. You can prepare parsnips just about any way you prepare carrots - try them roasted or in soups and stews. Parsnips make a great addition to mashed potatoes as well. Discover the great taste and nutrition of parsnips! 

 

Spring

Enjoying mangoes in season

Mangoes are a good source of fiber, and they are an excellent source of vitamin C - one cup of mango has more than half the vitamin C you need in a day! When buying mangoes, check for firmness; mangoes soften as they ripen. Once a mango is ripe, put it in the fridge to prevent rotting. To prepare a mango, cut each half along the flat side of the pit. Next, cut just the flesh (not the skin) into squares. Then turn it "inside out" so the cubes of mango "pop" out. Cut or pull off the cubes and enjoy them in salsa, in fruit salads, or as a sweet, juicy snack!

Enjoy bananas in season

BananasBanana trees actually produce fruit year-round, so it's always banana season! Bananas are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. You can buy bananas at any stage of ripeness, from dark green to yellow with brown spots. Bananas get sweeter and softer as they ripen, and they ripen well at room temperature. Simply leave them out until they get as ripe as you want them. You can put them into the fridge to stop ripening, but the skins will turn black. Bananas are great as an on-the-go snack and in fruit salads, smoothies, and cereal, but you can also cook with them. Very ripe bananas are good in breads and muffins, and bananas that are ripe but not too soft can be baked for an easy healthy dessert. Enjoy the sweet taste of bananas all year long!

Enjoying cabbage in season

Many people cook corned beef and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. There are several varieties of cabbage, but they're all similar in taste and texture. Look for tightly packed heads of cabbage that feel heavy for their size and store in the refrigerator for a week or two. In addition to boiled cabbage eaten with corned beef, shredded cabbage is great for stir-fry, soups, and, of course, coleslaw. Cabbage is the main ingredient in coleslaw, but you can mix in fruits and other vegetables to add flavor and texture. Try adding apple, pineapple, pear raisins, carrot, broccoli, or bell pepper. 

Enjoying asparagus in season

AsparagusDid you know that Massachusetts grows some of the best asparagus in the whole world? To prepare it, gently break off the cut ends of the spears where they break naturally. Then enjoy it raw, steam it quickly - just until the spears are tender and the color is still bright. You can also grill asparagus or stir-fry it with a small amount of oil, garlic, and soy sauce. Enjoy fresh asparagus now.

 

Summer

Enjoying zucchini in season

ZucchiniZucchini is just like yellow summer squash but it's green. It has a mild flavor, gets tender when you cook it, and makes a great side dish. Look for firm zucchini, and choose smaller ones because they have better flavor and smaller seeds inside. To prepare zucchini, cut off the ends and chop or slice it. Zucchini is great sautéed, steamed, roasted, or grilled. To grill zucchini, cut it into thick, flat, even slices and brush it with a little oil to keep it from sticking. Try cooking it with fresh herbs like basil or rosemary. Enjoy zucchini on its own or with other summer vegetables like tomatoes, onions, or eggplant!

Enjoying tomatoes in season

Buy fresh, juicy tomatoes at farmers' markets or roadside stands. Many grocery stores also feature locally-grown tomatoes. The flavor can't be beat! Look for tomatoes that are soft - not too firm or mushy - and are deep red in color. Chop or slice them for salads, dice them for salsa, or eat them whole like apples. Roast them to make your own oven-dried tomatoes. Or buy extra and make tomato sauce for freezing. Be sure to peel them before making a sauce - make an "X" on the end of each tomato and drop them in boiling water for a minute to loosen the skins. Tomatoes are rich in nutrition!

Enjoying greens in season

Leafy green vegetables like lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and kale will be showing up at farmers' markets this month. These vegetables have lots of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals. There are a huge variety of greens, each with their own flavor. Avoid wilted or discolored leaves when shopping, How you use these greens depends on the type. Some are good for salsa, some are best in soups, while others are good for sautéing. "Baby" greens, like baby spinach, are young and tender, making them better for salads. Ask your grocer or a farmer how to best prepare the greens they sell, and soon you'll be enjoying the great taste and nutrition of greens!

Enjoying green beans in season

Green beansSummer is the season of green! Green beans are a good source of fiber, are low in calories, and add color to your plate. Buy green beans that are crisp - they should snap when bent in half. Store them loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, and use them soon for the freshest flavor. When you're ready to use the green beans, wash them and cut or snap off the ends. You can put them in soups, stir-fries, and pastas. Steamed green beans also make a healthy and colorful side dish. However you eat them, enjoy the color, fresh taste, and nutrition of green beans!

Enjoying strawberries in season

When strawberries are in season they taste their best and cost less. Did you know that one cup of strawberries can give you all the vitamin C you need in a day? What a sweet way to stay healthy! Store strawberries in your refrigerator and wash them just before eating. You can also freeze them in plastic bags to keep them longer. Enjoy fresh strawberries in yogurt, smoothies, fruit salads, or fruit skewers! Or eat them on their own as a sweet, delicious snack!

 

Winter

Enjoy pineapples in season

While there isn’t much “in season” right now in Massachusetts, it’s pineapple season in the Caribbean! Pineapples are juicy, sweet, a little tart, and loaded with vitamin C. Pineapples will likely be on sale at your grocery store during January. Choose golden-colored pineapples that smell sweet, and avoid soft pineapples. To prepare a pineapple, start by cutting off the top and bottom. Next, stand up the pineapple and cut down the sides to remove the skin. Then cut it into quarters the long way; you should have four long pieces. Finally, cut out the hard center and chop or slice the remaining fruit. 

Enjoy winter squash in season

There are many varieties of winter squash, but butternut and acorn are among the most common. Buy firm squash and store in a cool, dry place for up to several weeks. To cook, peel the squash and cut it into chunks. Toss with a little oil and roast at 400 °F until lightly browned. Mashed or pureed squash can be used as a side dish and in soup and baked goods (instead of pumpkin). Start by cutting the squash in half the long way (through the stem). Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the squash cut side down. Roast at 400°F until the skin is browned and the flesh is soft. Let it cool, discard the seeds, and scoop out the flesh to use as you like. Enjoy the delicious taste of winter squash now!

Enjoy oranges in season

Orange saladBelieve it or not, winter is a great time to buy oranges! When buying oranges, look for fruit that feels heavy for its size and store oranges at room temperature. They make great snacks, especially mandarin oranges such as clementines, which are small, easy to peel, and seedless. Oranges are also a tasty addition to tossed salads, fruit salads, salsa, and vegetable salads. Lastly, make a delicious smoothie by blending fresh oranges, frozen peaches, and yogurt. Enjoy the fresh taste and low price of oranges now!

Enjoying avocados in season

With the Mexican avocado season in full swing, avocados are at their lowest price of the year. The type from Mexico is pear-shaped with green to black skin. Avocados ripen well at room temperature. A ripe avocado is dark green to black and feels soft but not mushy when you press on it. Once ripe, store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Avocados are high in heart-healthy fats and fiber, making them a nutritious and filling choice. When ready to eat, slice the avocado in half, then peel the skin or scoop out the flesh. Remove any bruised or brown spots. Avocado is delicious on its own, spread on bread, cubed and mixed with salsa, made into guacamole, or as a topping on tacos or fajitas. Enjoy the mellow taste and creamy texture of avocados now!

 

Picking Fresh Foods

Enjoy fresh produce in season

Farmers marketProduce is often less expensive when it's in season, and that's also when it's the freshest. Your local farmers' market is a great place to get produce in season. Visit the Farm Fresh website to see a calendar that shows when fruits and vegetables are in season. Follow our Healthy You blog to learn more about how to buy and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables when they're in season. The farmers at the market are often happy to help too! Plan a trip to a farmers' market this season and see all it has to offer!

Save money and enjoy the outdoors by going to a "Pick your own" farm. There are farms all across Massachusetts that let you pick your own strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins! Some have vegetables like salad greens or tomatoes, too. To find a "pick your own" farm take a look a this map. Besides saving you money, they are a great way to teach children about foods and how they grow. And if you don't have a "pick-your-own" farm nearby, then try shopping at a local farmers' market.