“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
Winter time is fully upon us now and it is time to start shopping for the wonderous wintry citrus and greens that are now in season. Here is a list of the general produce that is now in season. To see a more localized list, please visit Eat Well Guide’s site. For more information on seasonal eating, please see my post on Seasonal Eating. Happy Shopping!
What to Look For: Blood oranges are somewhat smaller than navel oranges, and often have pitted skin mottled with hints of red; the interior flesh is deep crimson. The flavor is sweeter and less tart than other oranges, and may have hints of raspberry or a slightly bitter edge. Choose firm, plump oranges that are heavy for their size.
How to Store: Blood oranges will keep at room temperature for several days, kept in a bowl or basket where air can circulate freely. To store oranges for up to two weeks, put them in an airtight bag or container and place them in the produce drawer of the refrigerator.
In Season: The peak season for collard greens is January through April, though many supermarkets carry them year-round.
What to Look For: Choose collards with deep-green leaves. Avoid those that are limp or have yellow spots. The smaller the leaves, the more tender they will be.
How to Store: Wrap unwashed collard greens in damp paper towels and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Stored like this, your greens will keep for up to five days. Wash thoroughly before cooking
In Season: Flavorful, slightly bitter escarole thrives in cool weather. It grows from fall through winter, and can be found year-round in most supermarkets.
What to Look For: A head of escarole looks like curly lettuce, and can be as small as a softball or as large as a soccer ball. Choose firmly packed heads with unblemished leaves.
How to Store: Wrap escarole in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
In Season: Fennel season lasts from mid-fall to early spring.
What to Look For: Choose firm, greenish-white fennel bulbs with no soft or brown spots. If the fronds are still attached to the bulb, they should be bright green with no signs of wilting.
How to Store: Wrapped in a paper bag, fennel will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days.
In Season: Grapefruit growing season lasts from October through May. Grapefruit keeps well in cold storage, so it can be found in supermarkets year-round.
What to Look For: Grapefruit comes in white, pink, and red varieties. Pink and red grapefruit gets its rosy blush from lycopene, the same antioxidant found in tomatoes. Choose fruit that’s heavy for its size, with smooth, rather than bumpy skin. These are good indicators that the grapefruit will be juicy.
How to Store: Grapefruit will keep at room temperature for a week when stored in a bowl or basket with good air circulation. Kept in an airtight bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, it can be stored for up to two months.
In Season: Kale turns sweeter in cold weather, so it’s at its best from mid-fall through early spring.
What to Look For: Choose kale with firm, deep-green leaves, avoiding any that are wilted or have yellow spots.
How to Store: Keep kale in the coldest part of your refrigerator, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. Though it seems like a sturdy vegetable, kale will quickly wilt and turn bitter.
In Season: Mustard greens are at their peak from January through April. Many supermarkets carry them year-round.
What to Look For: Look for leaves with a rich green color. Avoid any mustard greens that are wilted or yellowish. The smaller the leaves, the more tender they will be.
How to Store: Wrap unwashed mustard greens tightly and store in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to one week. Mustard greens tend to hold sand and dirt, so wash thoroughly before cooking.
In Season: Oranges are at their peak between December and April. Since oranges keep well in cold storage, they can be found in supermarkets throughout the year.
What to Look For: The most common variety of orange for eating is the navel orange, so named because the blossom end often resembles a navel. The skin of a ripe navel orange ranges in color from deep orange to yellow-green. Choose fruit that’s heavy for its size and free of soft spots.
How to Store: Oranges can be stored at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
In Season: Radicchio’s peak season lasts from January to April, although most specialty grocers carry it year-round.
What to Look For: This member of the chicory family comes in several varieties, with two types being most widely available in the United States: Treviso and Verona. Treviso leaves are oblong with pointed ends and grow in small, tightly packed heads. Verona radicchio grows in loosely packed round heads similar in shape to butter lettuce. Both varieties have purple leaves with white ribs. Choose radicchio with crisp leaves and no brown spots.
How to Store: Keep radicchio in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
In Season: Peak season for tangerines lasts from October to April. They are occasionally available during the rest of the year but are best enjoyed in season.
What to Look For: A good tangerine is firm or slightly soft, and feels heavy for its size. Choose tangerines with smooth, bright-orange, unblemished skin.
How to Store: Tangerines will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
~Percy Bysshe Shelley