Fruits & Veggies by Season

In-season fruits and vegetables offer great taste and great value. This article tells you what to buy and when, and how to check produce for freshness and ripeness in the grocery aisle.

Fruits & Veggies 101

Buying in-season fruits and vegetables is just about the smartest food shopping you can do for your family. Taste and nutritional value are all at an absolute maximum. And because in-season produce is local vs. imported you’re also guaranteed the freshest possible fare at the lowest possible prices. The growing season in Canada is long: make in-season produce part of your meal planning from early spring through to late autumn. 
 

Spring & Summer Veggies

Asparagus

Asparagus

Asparagus is great grilled or steamed, and is an excellent source of iron and vitamin A. Look for asparagus with tips that are closed and do not appear dry or shrivelled. Stems should be rounded and firm.
Available April through June.
Beets

Beets

Beets are regaining popularity, showing up in many popular and delicious salads. They are high in folate, manganese, dietary fibre and potassium, and are an effective anti-oxidant. Make sure you buy beets that are a deep, purple colour with firm green leaves. Orange beets are available too, which make for a nice colour variant in side dishes.
Available May through October.
Fava%20Beans

Fava Beans

Fava beans are a favourite in Mediterranean cooking. Once removed from the pod, fava beans can add a fresh, earthy taste to soups and bean salads. For the best beans, look for slightly flat pods that are uniformly green in colour.
Best purchased in May.
 
Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

One of the most anticipated greens of the early harvest, fiddleheads are young ferns still curled up prior to expanding into a full plant. Nutritionally, they are one of the best foods that Nature has to offer. High in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are also rich in iron and dietary fibre. Look for tightly wrapped spiral vs. open fiddleheads. They should also be soaked and thoroughly rinsed before eating.
Available April and May only.
 
Corn

Corn

Summer-harvested corn is one of the most highly anticipated crops of the season. When selecting corn, peel back the husk slightly and look for healthy, plump kernels near the top of the ear as a sign of freshness. The kernels should be packed closely together, without any spaces between them. Enjoy sweet corn or peaches & cream corn on the cob, either grilled or boiled with butter and salt to taste.
Available from mid-June to mid-August.
 
Chard

Chard

Chard is a delicious and nutritious leaf that can be used similarly to spinach. It is best served warm, either boiled or sautéed in butter. When selecting chard, make sure the leaves are slightly curled and about five-to-six inches across.
Available May through September.
Green%20Beans

Green Beans

An Ontario favourite, green beans are rich in vitamins A and C. They are equally great steamed or sautéed. When selecting green beans, look for a deep, green colour. The pods should be firm and springy, about four-to-eight inches in length.
Enjoy from July to early-September.
 
Herbs

Herbs

Most of the flavourful aromatics come to harvest in the summer and many are still available in the fall, just in time for Thanksgiving. When selecting herbs, ensure the leaves are green in colour with a strong fragrance. If you cannot smell anything from the herb or smell only a faint aroma, they should be avoided.
Available May through October, depending on the herb.
Broccoli

Broccoli

Broccoli is a delicious and diverse vegetable that can be prepared many ways. A fresh broccoli soup is a wonderful appetizer or lunch option. For a delicious side, steam the broccoli or sauté it in oil and butter. When purchasing broccoli, the crowns should be dense. Look for a deep green colour, and do not pick broccoli that is either light blue or yellow.
Available June through October.
 

Fall & Winter Veggies

Kale

Kale

This very popular leafy green is very versatile and is delicious in soups and stews. One of the most popular cooking methods is to create a kale chip by lightly tossing the leaves in oil and roasting them in the oven.
Available June through November.
Zucchini

Zucchini

Grilled as a side or incorporated into other recipes, zucchini is a great fall vegetable. Like turnips, zucchini is delicious grilled. You can also batter and deep-fry it for a crispy side dish. Pick zucchini that is a deep green colour. Yellow or light green zucchini is not ripe yet.
Available July through October.
 
Leeks

Leeks

Potato and leek soup is a hearty and flavourful meal your family will enjoy when the weather turns cold. You can also use leeks in dishes that normally call for onion. Make sure that you slice the leeks lengthwise and wash well before using them.
Available August through October.
 
Garlic

Garlic

A base ingredient in many dishes, garlic provides a shock of bright flavour when used raw. If sautéed or roasted, garlic brings an herbal sweetness to your meal. Garlic is also known to help prevent colds, which is welcome as winter and the cold season approaches. Garlic should not be sprouting out of the bulb, as it indicates that it has lost some of its flavour as it germinates.
Available August to November
 
Turnips

Turnips

No Thanksgiving table should be without these tart-yet-sweet root vegetables. Typically, turnips are served boiled and mashed. However, you can bring out even more sweetness from the turnip by grilling them. Slice the turnips and lightly cover them in olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper, then barbecue on a high heat.
Available August through November, but can be stored as late as February.
 
Potatoes

Potatoes

The most flexible starch available, potatoes seem to have unlimited recipe options. When selecting potatoes, make sure they feel firm with little if any give when squeezed. Don’t select a potato that appears to have eyes growing, as this means it’s beginning to germinate and will not taste as fresh.
Harvested through to November, they are able to be stored all year round.
 
Carrots

Carrots

Carrots are a sweet inclusion to any meal, but can also be enjoyed peeled and eaten raw as a healthy snack. Look for carrots that are firm, and ones that don’t bend without breaking. Available fresh from May through November, but able to be stored all year round.
Cabbage

Cabbage

Enjoy this vitamin-rich leaf in soups, sauerkraut and cabbage rolls. With their durable leaves, cabbages are able to stand up to both cooking heat as well as colder storage temperatures.
Available from May through November in harvest, but can be stored all year round.
 

Fruits to Buy in Summer

Nothing tops the sweetness of fresh summer fruits. Enjoy the great flavours while you can as the harvest season, though short, provides a tasty array of fruits at a low cost.
 
Berries
High in anti-oxidants and sweet flavour, berries can be enjoyed in pies, atop ice cream or simply in a dish on their own. Berries should be firm and rich in colour. Avoid berries that are ruptured or have broken skins.
Available July through August.
 
Cherries
A seasonal favourite, cherries are a popular fruit for the summer. Look for a dark, ruby coloured skin and make sure there are no blemishes or open cuts on the cherry, as these can eventually spoil the entire batch.
Available in June and July.
 
Peaches
Look for peaches with a golden coloured skin, and a fragrant peach smell. Hard, unripe peaches are good for baking as they will stand up well to an oven’s heat. Peaches that are juicy and ready for eating will bruise slightly to the touch.
Available in July and August.
 
Watermelon
Watermelon is a delicious summer treat. The tender interior makes it a fantastic ingredient in salads and salsas, as well as in smoothies and shakes. Look for watermelon that is free of dents, bruises and cuts. Tap the watermelon and listen for a hollow sound, which tells you the melon is ripe.
Available in August and September.
 

Why Buy Local?

  1. Looks and Tastes: Locally grown seasonal foods look and taste better than their imported counterparts. There is minimal movement and jostling in transit, ensuring less bruising and an overall fresher product.
     
  2. Benefit from the Nutrients: Seasonal fruit and vegetables are picked and sold immediately, preserving the inherent nutrients and vitamins. By consuming the foods in their natural growing season, you are able to enjoy their natural freshness as well as their deep flavours.
     
  3. Enjoy a Natural Harvest: In larger mass-production farms, crops are selected for growth by the plant’s ability to ripen uniformly, and withstand harsh elements and shorter growing cycles. They are also designed to have a long shelf-life. Locally grown seasonal vegetables and fruit are grown in wider varieties with more care to provide a larger array of flavours, colours and a longer harvest season.
     
  4. Preservative-Free Food: Eating local means less time is needed to get the food from the farm to your house. Local foods are naturally ripened and come in a wider array of colour and size.
     
  5. Community: When you purchase local in-season produce, you are supporting local farmers and families. Choosing fresher fruit and vegetable options means you help build a strong community and support the local food suppliers. Buying local also helps support the local tax-base and keep money inside your community to help local development.
 
Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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