How to continue choosing “In-Season” beyond the summer season

I started reading one of those Yahoo fitness articles about low-cost foods and tricks to get you some wallet-saving benefits while giving you some good foods to nourish your body now that we’re into fall and winter here in the northern hemisphere.  The problem, of course, is that very few of the tips actually mentioned WHY a particular food might be “good” for your body, other than that it had fewer calories than the alternative.  Whereas for ME I’d rather hear about the actual nutritional VALUE of these foods.  I’m all for saving money but if I’m swapping tasty and nutritious items for processed crap then I don’t see it as an improvement.

The only good advice was a small bit about buying produce and foods that are in season, when they are at their nutritional peak and likely less expensive than other products that might have to be imported.  I’m not sure about anyone else but my tendency is to really hunger for and know the summer produce yet be sadly ignorant of what is truly in-season once the leaves start to fall (aside from winter squash and pumpkins that is). Since I’m a big fan of getting in some tasty fresh veggies and fruits and always trying to get the best items, without wasting money on out-of-season produce in that every-tricky crap-shoot “pick something and pray it doesn’t end up rotten or un-ripe” game that I end up going through this time of year, I thought I might share that advice and some other info that I dug up.

Here are some tasty autumn staples that might not break the bank and are in season at the moment:

Seasonal Eating: Beef in the winter and chicken in the spring? Lamb all year? Cheeses and nuts, when are they best? Vegetables and fruits aren’t the only items that you can shop for and eat seasonally.  Meats and eggs also have cycles of “in-season”-ness that might be intriguing to read about and consider.

Vegetables: Vitamin-rich vegetables in season right now are broccoli, mustard greens, arugula, bok choi, chard, carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, leeks, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, and squashes of all shapes and sizes.

Fruits: Opt for apples, pears, and cranberries for inexpensive fruits packed with nutrients.

Growing your own: “Here, we’ve summarized some basic information on vegetables that are good to grow in the fall and winter.” This site gives a good chart (which I’ve duplicated below) of what you can plant and plan for harvesting in fall and winter as well as tips for figuring out what gardening zone you live in so you can better plan and plant!

Recommended Fall and Winter Vegetables *When to Plant (Ask Your Extension Agent for Specific Dates) Frost Hardy?
Arugula Late Summer Yes, light frost
Beets Mid Summer Yes, light frost
Broccoli Mid Summer Yes, very light frost
Brussels Sprouts Mid Summer Yes, heavy frost
Carrots Mid to late summer, early fall Yes, light frost
Corn Late summer, early fall Yes, light frost
Escarole Late summer Yes, light frost
Fava Beans Late summer, early fall Yes, medium to heavy frost
Garlic Early fall Yes, light to medium frost
Kale Mid summer Yes, medium to heavy frost
Leeks Spring, Fall Yes, light frost
Lettuce Late summer Yes, very light frost
Mustard greens Mid to late summer Yes, light frost
Onions Late summer Yes, light to medium frost
Radishes Late summer Yes, light to medium frost
Spinach Later summer Yes, light frost

Does anyone have other resources they use or tips they’ve learned to help folks keep the variety of fresh meats and produce during the coming winter and with the tightening budgets many of us are feeling more and more lately, please share in the comments! I’d love to see how others are keeping great food choices going all year! Is there a particular veggie or meat or cheese or nut that sets your mind to crafting interesting meal combinations at this time of year?  Feel free to set everyone’s creative culinary juices flowing.

Oh and for those seeking instant results without all the bother of having to decide what season you’re in and what might be available where you are, here is an interesting site that is supposedly updated weekly, which shows a quick and dirty list of what is “in-season” right now. Here is the list for today, November 3rd:

VEGETABLES

bell peppers | beet | broccoli | broccolini | brussels sprouts | butternut squash | cauliflower | celery root | chard | collards | fennel | garlic | leeks | parsnip | potatoes (maincrop) | pumpkin | rutabaga | salsify | spinach | sweet potatoes | sunchoke | turnips | wild mushrooms

FRUIT & NUTS

almonds | apples | chestnuts | cranberries | pears | persimmon | pomegranate

MEAT

duck | lamb | partridge | pheasant | rabbit | venison

FISH & SEAFOOD

clams | mussels | scallops

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7 thoughts on “How to continue choosing “In-Season” beyond the summer season

  1. The best advice I can think of about seasonal eating, at least as far as veg goes, is to think about what the plants are putting energy into at that time of year. For example, it’s fall right now and if the plant is an annual (has one growing season before death) it’s putting all its energy in to a hearty fruit of some sort. If the plant is a perennial (comes back year after year) it’s putting all of its energy into the root so it can survive the winter. Also you’ll find that you’ll want root vegetables this time of year, not leaves. In Spring, I find myself craving salad and things that taste “green” to me but don’t tend to want salad any other time of the year. This is because in Spring the plants are putting their energy into the shoots and leaves. Hence Summer for fruits and flowers.

    On the subject of seasonal recipes… Starting when the weather gets crisp, I start wanting my mother’s simmes. To make simmes chop up one part carrots to one part parsnips and par boil. Put in to a casserole dish and coat with honey and roast. Season with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

    I also love mashed butternut squash with honey, cinnamon, and rosemary

    In our family we have spaghetti squash instead of pasta with marinara sauce

    Cure-all is raw garlic. Turns out it really does work

  2. Sara A i love garlic. But it is a cure-all for what? Just general winter duldrums that end up coming around in these shorter days of stormy weather? I really have to start getting into that Spaghetti squash; I have so many recipes stored up to try 🙂

  3. I learned the science behind this from my psych professor. When a garlic clove is broken it releases allium, a powerful anti-pathinogenic compound, which remains effective for about a half hour after it’s been activated. This is what causes raw garlic to stink to high heaven after it’s cut and what is impossible to wash off your hands. If you eat garlic raw, you get the benefits of the allium and it goes through your system killing off bad bacteria, virus, and fungi. Raw garlic is a tactical nuke to most illnesses. You can either gnaw on a clove or turn it into humus, caesar salad dressing, or making a spread with parmasian and olive oil on toast. It cures what ails you.

  4. If you live anywhere near a culinary school or a tech school/university with culinary programs you can usually get fresh bread, baked goods and meat at ridiculously good prices. (and in addition to that, tasty dishes like curried turnips!)Look around and ask students, these places are generally not too well known unless you work at or attend the school.

    Fancy example of the possible savings: My dear boyfriend went and bought all of our meat for the little while for about $25 (Canadian) and this includes: sausage, ground beef, chicken and some nice stuffed steaks. Whooo. Not to mention delicious fresh bread at $1-2/loaf.

    Though as a disclaimer, not every school has a meat cutting/baking/pastry arts, etc. program, what you’re able to get depends entirely on whether or not there’s a program for what you’re after. It’s also heavily dependant on what the students are making any given day.

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