11 Spring Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Right Now
Spring Fruits and Vegetables
With the warmer weather of April and May comes the selection of spring fruits and vegetables you've been waiting for a year to sink your teeth back into. All this seasonal produce will get you excited to put on your apron and start cooking up spring recipes like rhubarb pie and light, colorful salads. Check out these in-season spring fruits and vegetables to buy on your next grocery run.
Most U.S.-grown artichokes come from California, and this spring vegetable is in-season from March through June, and then again during the fall. One steamed artichoke has around 65 calories and an impressive 10 grams of fiber, and they're an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Plus, this spring vegetable contains the antioxidant silymarin, which helps protect from heart disease and contributes to healthy liver function.
Spring is salad time, and there are lots of lettuce options for you to choose from. Some varieties you may find at your grocery store or local farmers market include arugula, watercress, Bibb lettuce, Boston lettuce, mizuna, mache, and mesclun mix (a combo of young, small salad greens).
The darker green varieties tend to have more than 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of beta-carotene. When shopping for the green stuff, choose those that are crisp and free of blemishes. Wash gently and drain or blot with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. You can store washed and drained spring lettuce in re-sealable plastic bags for up to five days in the fridge.
Nectarines are harvested in May and are available throughout the spring and summer months. Nectarines are packed with nutrition as they're an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A and also have the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. When selecting this spring fruit at the store or produce stand, look for nectarines that are free of bruises or blemishes and avoid any with green or wrinkled skin. Store unripe nectarines at room temperature or to speed up the ripening process, place in a paper bag along with a banana or apple. Ripe nectarines can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Try cooking with this spring fruit in this recipe for low-carb fish tacos with fresh and fruity nectarine salsa.
Ramps are in the same family as onions and garlic and are sometimes referred to as a wild leek. This spring vegetable looks similar to a scallion with a tiny bulb, skinny stalk with green feathery leaves. Ramps are only available for a limited time. They are harvested through the spring into early summer between April through early June. Ramps have 50 calories per cup and provide vitamins A and C. They can be enjoyed fresh or cooked, although cooking helps mellow their strong flavor. Add fresh ramps to a spring salad or chop and add to rice, pasta or egg dishes.
There are two classes of strawberries: June-bearing and ever-bearing. The June-bearing only produces fruit for a few weeks in late spring, while the ever-bearing grows from early summer to early fall. Eight fresh strawberries (or 1 cup) provide 45 calories, only seven grams of sugar, and 140-percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
Strawberries are also a good source of fiber and contain folate and potassium. This fresh spring fruit also provides anthocyanins, a natural plant compound. Previous research found that high anthocyanin intake (more than three servings a week of strawberries) is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks in some women.
The end of March is peak season for this early spring favorite. Wondering what the white asparagus is all about? This spring vegetable has a milder flavor and is grown underground without exposure to sunlight. One cup of chopped asparagus has 30 calories, is a rich source of folate and thiamin, and a good source of fiber, iron, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. For best results when cooking this veggie, make sure the spears are all the same thickness so they cook evenly.
Also called green or spring onions, scallions are in season beginning in late March. They're slightly sweeter than other onion varieties but still offer a perfectly strong flavor. For the best flavor combo, use the green tops for sweetness and white ends for crunch. Scallions are versatile and can be added to most any dish where you want a hint of onion flavor such as pasta salads, soups, pizza, guacamole, salad dressing, and scrambled eggs.
May is the harvesting time for California avocados (just in time for Cinco de Mayo!). One-third of an avocado has 80 calories and close to 20 vitamins and minerals. It's also one of the only fruits that contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. (Related: Incredible Avocado Nutrition Facts That Solidify Your Love for the Fruit)
To check the ripeness of an avocado, gently squeeze the avocado without applying too much pressure at your fingertips (this can bruise the fruit). Unripe avocados take about four to five days to ripen, but you can speed things up by placing the avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for a few days. Ripe unopened avocado can be stored in the fridge for two to three days.
This favorite pie ingredient hits peak season for a short time in early spring. It has dark green leaves and shiny crimson stalks. Raw rhubarb is known for its tart flavor, so it's often cooked to take down the tartness a notch. One cup of rhubarb has 25 calories and is brimming with the antioxidants vitamin C and E. When shopping for rhubarb, choose stalks that are bright and firm. Trim before storing in the fridge and tightly wrap in a plastic bag for up to two weeks.
This leafy green is an excellent source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K. It's also brimming with minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. In fact, spinach is one of the best sources of the antioxidant lutein, which helps keeps your eyes and your skin looking great. To get the most nutrition out of your spinach, look for those with vibrant, deep leaves.
This member of the mustard family has a slight peppery flavor. Radishes can be found in a variety of colors, ranging from red to purple to white to black, and this low-calorie superstar has 20 calories per cup and is brimming with vitamin C, folate, potassium, and folate. Munch on them for a snack, or sauté, braise, glaze, or pickle them. And don't forget about the leaves—they can be added raw to salads or cooked like spinach.