Spring is here! With a new month and season comes fresh fruits and vegetables. April is a time where we are renewing ourselves from the cold winter months and looking to transform our habits for the new spring season. To start off spring’s seasonal produce guide it's important to remember the reason to shop seasonally. Seasonal produce is consumed around the time it is harvested. Seasonal food is more nutritious, richer taste and fresher flavor, environmentally friendly, and cost efficient. Purchasing and consuming seasonal produce reduces the distance of transportation as it is produced from local farms. Out of season produce has a lengthier process of transportation and distribution. Fruits and vegetables picked during their peak season are full of flavor and their nutrients ripen naturally.
Spring seasonal produce guide:
Eating locally is important because it supports local farms and the community. Understanding where our produce is harvested is a huge step in supporting local farms. By supporting your local economy it motivates growers to grow food locally. Local growers can explain exactly how their food is grown including their farming practices to raise and harvest crops. By knowing more about where our food is coming from and who grew it, we are getting more in touch with the food we eat.
Below lists a few specific foods from the spring produce guide above with details on how to preserve, wash, and serve them.
Mushrooms are a top favorite food of mine because they add such great taste to any recipe. When buying mushrooms, pay attention to their size, shape, and color.
They should be fairly firm rather than limp and will smell clean rather than musty. It's okay for mushrooms to have some dirt on them. To store mushrooms and preserve their freshness I like to use this saying: Keep them cold so they don’t get old. Place the whole unwashed mushroom in a brown paper bag and fold over the top. Then, place the bag in the refrigerator. The bag absorbs excess moisture from mushrooms, so they don’t get soggy or moldy, keeping them fresher longer. When cleaning mushrooms, minimize water exposure as they could get soggy. Right before cooking, quickly rinse them in a colander and let the water drip out. This should be followed by drying them on a towel or use a damp cloth to wipe them. Mushrooms can be served in a risotto, on pizza, mixed with pasta, and sautéed as a side dish.
Asparagus have a small water footprint and do not use much energy to grow. The most common types of asparagus are a light to medium shade of green with dark or purple tips. Usually, the thinnest stalks are the most tender and should have a fresh scent. Try to eat asparagus as soon as possible for the best freshness. If you wait a couple of days, trim the ends of the stalk, and keep them standing bound together in a cup of water in the refrigerator. If you decide to buy extra during this season, freezing them works well. When cooking the asparagus, you may have to trim the softer end of the stalk near the root. Asparagus can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, or air fried. It is most important to not overcook them.
When buying spinach look for green leaves and stems that are firm and upright. Spinach is one of the top grown greens with highest pesticide residue. It is recommended to buy spinach locally and to be informed on the methods it is produced. If consuming it raw, wash all the spinach leaves thoroughly. Spinach can spoil quickly with exposure to moisture therefore, store unwashed spinach in a container.
To preserve it, freeze it, by boiling the leaves for two minutes and then transferring it to a bowl with ice and water to stop cooking. Once drained, dry with a towel or in a salad spinner to place in a freezer safe container.
Prior to cooking it, washing spinach leaves (even the ones that are pre-washed) is a key step. Fill a bowl with spinach leaves and cold water, soak for a few seconds, empty the water and rinse any left-over dirt. Spinach can be cooked in a saucepan or a skillet. Don’t forget that spinach is made up of 90% water so it will shrink when its cooking! On a skillet add some coconut oil or walnuts for an added layer of flavor. It can be eaten in a quesadilla, for spanakopita, with pasta or rice. Spinach contains nutrients such as fiber, protein and a rich source of vitamins A and K.
Hope you enjoyed this spring seasonal produce guide and that it helps you pick out what to buy next!