Seasonal Guide: When Fruits Are in Season

Assorted fruit
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Apples, bananas, and lemons are three fruits you'll find any time of the year, and you can feel comfortable knowing they're in season no matter what. In fact, these days almost all fruits and berries are available year-round. But many fruits are at their best flavor-wise (and nutrition-wise) when they're freshly picked. So whether it's at the grocery store or the farmer's market, here's what to look for when shopping for seasonal produce.

Spring: March, April, and May

Apricots

Apricots tend to be a little soft to the touch when they're ripe. Choose apricots that are golden-orange in color and try to avoid the ones that are hard and greenish in color. If you do buy apricots that aren't quite ripe, just keep them at room temperature so they can ripen a bit more. They don't last long so eat them within a day or two.

Honeydew Melons

Honeydews should feel heavy for their size. The rind should be unblemished with a greenish color. They may also feel waxy or even sticky to the touch. Store them in the refrigerator until you cut them, after that store the cut pieces in a covered container in the fridge.

Limes

It's easy enough to find limes most any time of the year, but their best season is spring. Choose limes that have smooth, shiny skin and feel heavy for their size. Limes keep well and can stay in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Lychees

Canned lychees are available year-round, but fresh lychees may be found in some grocery stores in the spring. Choose lychees that have firm red shells and feel heavy for their size. Keep them in the refrigerator where they'll keep for up to ten days.

Mangos

A ripe mango should have a sweet aroma, and the skin should give just a little bit when you squeeze the fruit, but not so much that you leave a dent.

The color of the skin should be green, yellow, or red. Keep ripe whole mangos in your refrigerator for up to a week. Once you cut the mango, it needs to be eaten within a day or two.

Pineapples

Fresh pineapples should have dark green firm leaves and should feel heavy when you hold one. Avoid fruits that have leaves that are wilted or the skin has darkened spots or feels squishy. Pineapples can be kept at room temperature for a day or two but once they're peeled and sliced, keep the pieces refrigerated and eat them within a day or two.

Rhubarb

You'll rarely find fresh rhubarb in the grocery store at any other time of the year so grab it while you can. Rhubarb is ripe when the stalks are deep red, but avoid rhubarb stalks that are limp or appear dehydrated. Keep your rhubarb in the refrigerator and use it within a few days.

Strawberries

Sweet red strawberries are easy to find all year, but they're at their best during the spring (and summer) months. Choose berries that are firm, but not solid and avoid strawberries that have mold, squishy spots or look shriveled. Keep your berries refrigerated and eat them within a few days.

Summer: June, July and August

Apricots, honeydew melons, limes, lychees and strawberries continue to be in season during the summer months.

Asian Pears

Asian pears are at their peak in the summer, although you'll often see them at other times of the year. Choose Asian pears that are firm to the touch without any dark spots. Asian pears keep their firm texture and will last up to a week at room temperature and for three months when refrigerated.

Blackberries

Blackberries are at their best during the summer months when they're shiny and dark in color. Look for berries that are not bruised or mushy, and you don't want to see fluid leaking from the berries or any signs of mold. Keep blackberries in the refrigerator for up to a week, but don't wash them until you're ready to eat them.

Blueberries

Here's another berry that's available year-round, but there's no denying they're bigger and better tasting during the summer months. And, probably, quite a bit less expensive. As with any berry, look for smooth skins with no sign of mold. Blueberries should be dark in color when they're fully ripe. Keep them in the refrigerator, unwashed, for up to two weeks.

Boysenberries

Boysenberries are a cross between blackberries and raspberries, so their color is darker than red raspberries, but not as dark as blackberries. Choose boysenberries that aren't moldy and have smooth, shiny skins. As long as they're not washed they'll last for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Cantaloupe Melons

It's hard to imagine a summer without cantaloupe melons. Choose melons that have firm, unbroken skin and feel heavy for their size. Avoid the ones that look like they're bruised. Store whole cantaloupe melons for up to one week. You'll need to refrigerate any peeled and sliced pieces and eat them within a few days.

Casaba Melons

These melons have pale green flesh and bright yellow skin when they're fully ripe. Choose casaba melons that are firm and without bruises or squishy parts. The end where the stem was might feel slightly soft, and that's okay. Store casaba melons at room temperature for a week and refrigerate melons that have been cut.

Cherries

Canned and frozen cherries are always around, but you'll find fresh cherries at their best during the summer months. Choose cherries that are deep red in color, with smooth, unbroken skins and without bruises or blemishes. Cherries will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to ten days.

Figs

Fresh figs are ready to eat in the summer time, but they don't last too long. Choose figs with smooth skin dry skin. They should be somewhat soft to the touch but not mushy. Put them in the refrigerator when you get home from the store and eat them within a day or two.

Grapes

Grapes have a very long season, starting in the summer when you'll find several different varieties in the produce section. Choose plump grapes with no signs of bruising, mushy spots or mold. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to ten days, or freeze them.

Nectarines

Fresh nectarines are best in the summer months. Choose fruits that have smooth skin and are firm to the touch, but not too hard. Avoid nectarines that are bruised or mushy. You can keep firm nectarines at room temperature for a day or two or put them in the refrigerator. You'll need to eat them within two or three days.

Passion Fruits

Summer signals the beginning of passion fruit season so you might find some in your local grocery store. Choose passion fruits that have wrinkled skin and feel heavy in your hand. If the surface is smooth, then the fruit isn't ripe yet. But you can keep them at room temperature for a few days until fully ripened and then put them in the fridge.

Peaches

Fresh, fragrant peaches are ripe during the summer months. Choose fruits that have fuzzy skin and are firm to the touch, but not too hard. Avoid peaches that are bruised or mushy. You can keep firm peaches at room temperature and eat them within two or three days.

Plums

Fresh plums are sweet and tasty and so easy to find in the produce section during the summertime. Choose plums that are plump with smooth skins. Avoid plums that are mushy or bruised. Keep plums at room temperature or refrigerate them and eat them within two or three days.

Raspberries

Lovely but delicate raspberries are at their best during the summer months. Look for raspberries that are not bruised or mushy, and you don't want to see fluid leaking from the berries or any sign of mold. Keep raspberries in the refrigerator, but don't wash them until you're ready to eat them, which you'll need to do within a day or two.

Watermelon

Watermelons are a summertime staple. Choose watermelons that are heavy and look for a creamy yellow spot on the rind. Keep whole watermelons at room temperature or cut them up and keep them in the refrigerator. Eat your watermelons within five or six days.

Fall: September, October and November

Asian pears, grapes, and passion fruits stay in season, while mangos and pineapples come back into season during the fall months. Also:

Cranberries

This is the time of year when tart and tangy cranberries are ready for your favorite fall recipes. Choose cranberries that are firm with glossy red skin. They'll keep for a long time as long as you refrigerate them. In fact, they're good for up to two months.

Key Limes

Little key limes are ready in the fall. Choose limes that have firm shiny skin and feel heavy for their tiny size. Keep key limes in the refrigerator where they'll stay fresh for up to two weeks.

Pears

You can find pears any time of year, but they're most flavorful in the fall. Choose pears that are firm with just a little softness near the stem. Keep firm pears at room temperature and move them to the refrigerator after a day or two so they don't over-ripen.

Pomegranates

Fresh pomegranates are perfect in fall dishes or as a healthy snack. Choose pomegranates that are firm and heavy for their size. Keep whole pomegranates in the fridge for up to two months, until you're ready to remove the arils.

Winter: December, January and February

Pomegranates, pears and passion fruits continue to be in season during the winter. Also:

Grapefruits

Fresh grapefruits aren't ever hard to find, but they're most affordable during the winter months. Choose grapefruits that have smooth skin and are heavy for their size. Fresh uncut grapefruits will last for a week at room temperature or two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Kiwifruits

Little kiwifruits are at their peak in the winter so this is when they're most flavorful and affordable. Choose kiwifruits with fuzzy unbroken skin. They should feel heavy for their size and somewhat soft. Keep them refrigerated where they'll keep fresh for up to six weeks.

Oranges

All kinds of oranges come into season during the winter months, including naval oranges and mandarin oranges (including tangerines and clementines). Look for oranges that smell sweet and fresh, have firm skin and feel heavy for their size. Room temperature is fine for a day or two, but if you need to keep them longer, then the refrigerator is best where they'll stay fresh for up to two weeks.

Pummelos

Fresh pummelos look like giant grapefruits and you'll find them during the winter months. Choose pummelos that have smooth skin and are heavy for their size. Fresh uncut pummelos will last for a week at room temperature or up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Source:

Produce for Better Health Foundation. "What Vegetables Are In Season?"

United States Department of Agriculture. "Seasonal Produce Guide - What's in Season?"

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