When you’re at the supermarket, strolling through the produce section and inspecting peaches for bruising or thumping melons to check for ripeness, the abundance of it all can make it easy to forget that everything for sale around you had to have been grown from soil someplace, and shipped to the store. That’s right, folks. Fruits and veggies come from plants, and plants respond best to certain environmental conditions – leading to seasonality.
To get the most out of the produce you eat – both nutritionally and from a flavor standpoint – you need to know about seasonal fruit and vegetables. They are typically only at their peak flavor and nutrient content for a few months, so it’s best to shop in-season.
(Or turn to something like kencko – our process presses pause on seasonal produce so it retains more of its flavor and nutrients for longer!)
In this guide, we’ll provide you with information to help you shop smarter for fresh produce, and include some examples of what you can expect to find during each season.
Seasonality – in this context – stems from different fruits’ and vegetables’ natural growing rhythms, which depend a ton on weather patterns and daylight hours.
Sure, we’ve managed to develop growing, shipping, and storing methods that allow plenty of produce to be purchased and enjoyed year round, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before technology like modern refrigeration was developed, folks were stuck with eating only what was freshly harvested, and thus, learned to get creative with their diets and ingredient choices.
Seasonal eating is still something many people partake in.
There are plenty of reasons someone might want to focus on getting more fresh seasonal fruit and seasonal vegetables in their diets.
For starters, eating seasonally means getting produce at the peak of its freshness and flavor. Produce in season is also cheaper, because you’re buying it at the height of its abundance – plus, there are reduced CO2 emissions associated with transportation and growing seasonally.
You’re more likely to support your local economy, by supporting local farms and growers. It even is often healthier for you, since in-season produce usually contains higher counts of nutrients, minerals, and trace minerals.
And of course, you’re more likely to eat a wider variety of foods throughout the year. As soon as one fruit goes out of season, another vegetable might spring into peak ripeness! It’s hard to beat following seasonality when it comes to variety and discovery.
Ah, spring. A time for fresh beginnings, and spring seasonal vegetables and fruits!
Throughout the spring, you can generally find:
Spring French Toast (vegan)
1 orange (zest and 1/4 cup / ~60mL juice)
1 package silken tofu (12.3 ounces / ~350 grams)
1/4 cup / ~60mL of maple syrup
3 tablespoons of oil (olive oil or melted coconut oil)
1 cup / ~230mL of soy, oat, or other plant-based milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
16 ounces / ~450g bread ( fluffy, airy with good crust) sliced into 1-2 inch chunks.
3 cups / ~130g of chopped seasonal fruits like apples, apricots, and strawberries.
1/2 cup / ~64g sliced almonds (or pecans, hazelnuts… etc)
Preheat oven to 400F / 200ºC
Zest the orange, set zest aside.
Make the “batter”: In a blender, place the block of silken tofu, maple syrup, oil, plant-based milk, orange juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and the nutmeg in the blender. Blend until smooth and creamy and tofu is fully incorporated.
Cut the bread into chunks, place it in a large bowl, and top it with half of the orange zest. Pour in the wet mixture, scraping down the sides of the blender, Toss well so all is nicely coated. Toss in the fruits and almonds. Place in a non-stick baking dish. Sprinkle a little orange zest over top. For added yumminess, grate fresh nutmeg over top.
Cover with foil. If your dish is overly full, cover with parchment and then foil (to prevent sticking). Bake 30 minutes.
French toast should look slightly puffed and continue baking uncovered for 15 minutes, or until nicely golden.
Serve with maple syrup (we like to drizzle a little more over the top) and extra cinnamon (you can also add chopped fresh fruit and plain yogurt).
You can make this ahead, keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days and reheat it.
The bread matters. Try to find a fluffy, airy bread with a good crust, it can be whole grain!
Summer is the height of the growing season – plants… what can we say, they like warmth and sun! So you can expect to find an abundance of fresh produce during this time of year. Here are some of our favorite summer seasonal fruit and veggie options.
During the summer, you can usually find:
Blackberry Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese
5 oz (140 g) of baby arugula
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup (140 g) fresh blackberries
⅓ cup goat cheese crumbled or vegan goat cheese (recipe here)
¼ cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts
¼ cup torn basil leaves
Optional: balsamic glaze
3 tbsp olive oil
2 ½ tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Start by making the dressing. Combine all ingredients and whisk in a small bowl.
Assemble the salad in a large bowl by combining the arugula, onion, and blackberries with the dressing. Toss lightly to combine.
Top salad with nuts and goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic glaze if desired.
Come fall, the temperature and amount of daylight may begin to wane, but there are still plenty of fall seasonal fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed!
During the fall, you can almost always find:
Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup
2 tbsp avocado oil
½ large white onion or 1 shallot, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 pounds (~1.3 kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 quart (~1 L) vegetable stock
1 cup (~210 g) red lentils
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk (13-15 oz/~385-445 mL)
Heat a large pot with oil on medium heat. Add onion or shallot, carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in vegetable stock, lentils, turmeric, and salt. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil for 3-5 min. Stir occasionally.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Sweet potatoes and lentil should be tender.
Allow soup to cool slightly and then puree using a blender or immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
Add salt and seasoning to taste, adding additional stock or water to thin to preferred consistency.
“Winter” and “fresh produce” may not exactly be two phrases you associate with one another, but while it’s true there may be fewer winter seasonal vegetables and fruits than in other seasons, there are still great options.
During the winter, you’ll likely be able to find:
Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Winter Gratin (vegetarian, adaptable to vegan)
1 lb / ~450g of winter squash, peeled, sliced into disks
½ lb / ~225g of sweet potatoes
½ lb / ~225g of regular potatoes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
15 sage leaves, chopped
1 cup / ~240g of heavy cream (or sub coconut milk)
1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 cup / ~60mL of water
3 ounces / ~85g of gruyere cheese (or sub parmesan or vegan parmesan)
1/2 cup / ~64g of walnuts, chopped and toasted
Preheat oven to 375 F / 190ºC
Prep winter squash: Peel and thinly slice the squash into rounds. When you get to the seeds, scoop them out and continue slicing. Set aside some of the “prettiest” slices for the top of the gratin. (There will be 3 layers, so you could divide them into 3, placing any misshapen pieces in the middle layer).
Prep the potatoes: Peel and thinly slice the potatoes into rounds. (There will be 3 layers, so you could divide them into 3, placing any misshapen pieces in the middle layer).
Cook the leek + onion: Slice and rinse the leek and the onion- the moisture here will help them soften. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute them, for 8-10 minutes, covering part way through so they soften. Add the garlic, sage, and a pinch of salt, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Turn heat off.
Whisk the cream with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and onion powder in a medium bowl.
Layer: A big shallow pan is best here, ensuring even cooking. Drizzle some olive oil, and add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Layer with the slices of potatoes and the squash overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with half of the sauteed leek and onion. Drizzle with 1/3 cup of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with one ounce of Gruyere (about 3-4 tablespoons grated). Add the 2nd layer of using up any misshapen pieces here, and add the remaining sauteed leek and onion. Drizzle with 1/3 cup cream mixture and sprinkle with grated gruyere cheese. Add the final layer, overlapping and pressing down so not domed in the middle. Drizzle the remaining cream mixture over top, and lightly sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Give the pan a little shake, and press down in the center again so the gratin is leveled, not domed. Cover, using parchment first as a barrier, under the foil if the foil touches the top of the gratin.
Bake 45 minutes covered. Uncover, confirming the squash and the potatoes are tender using the tip of a knife, then bake at 400F / 200ºC uncovered, 15 minutes until golden. Enjoy!
Planning ahead can make eating more seasonal fresh fruit and veggies easier. Know what’s in season and make a list of the fruits and veggies you’d like to buy when you head to the store.
If you have the time, buying and cooking in bulk, then freezing individual portions, can be a great way to maximize what you can get out of your favorite type of seasonal produce. This is especially true of the offerings you’ll find at your local farmers market or pick-your-own farm – which also mean you are supporting local business.
But seasonal fruits and veggies can be enjoyed outside of their conventional fresh forms, as well. Produce plucked at peak freshness and quickly canned, frozen, or – in the case of kencko – freeze-dried retain most of their nutrients and flavor, and can be enjoyed year round. Packing a convenient kencko smoothie or kencko bowl with you is a surefire way to keep the whole rainbow of seasonal plant foods at your fingertips, no matter how busy life gets.