40 Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs Whose Seasons We Ignore

June 15, 2016

"To every thing there is a season," sang The Byrds (and, oh yeah, they were quoting a pretty well-known book called the Bible).

But would you think twice about making lemony zucchini bread in August because citrus season is in the winter? Or rosemary-scented leg of lamb for Christmas dinner even though fresh rosemary's grown indoors in the winter?

We buy many of the following 40 foods year-round. Maybe we're violating something sacred here, maybe we're making a jaw-dropping confession—or maybe you make similar decisions based on what's available, and for whatever reason that's the case (like, because it can be stored long after harvest, or because it's pretty much always grown indoors, or because it's only from one part of the world).

Here are the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that we pick up without thinking about whether they're in the season—be that a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between:

  1. Lemons
  2. Limes
  3. Oranges and lots of other citrus (except for Meyer lemons and clementines)
  4. Potatoes
  5. Ginger
  6. Garlic
  7. Rosemary
  8. Thyme
  9. Parsley (flat and curly)
  10. Mint
  11. Okay, almost all herbs (except basil)
  12. Onions
  13. Lemongrass
  14. Scallions
  15. Shallots
  16. Most other alliums except for spring onions, garlic scapes, leeks, and ramps
  17. Romaine
  18. Arugula
  19. Spinach
  20. Kale
  21. Bok choy
  22. Lots of other greens and lettuces except for those clearly oriented with the seasons, like watercress
  23. Table grapes (except particular varietals like Concords)
  24. Chile peppers
  25. Bell peppers
  26. Avocados
  27. Celery
  28. Carrots (unless they're the young babes from the market)
  29. Broccoli
  30. Bananas
  31. Kiwi
  32. Mango
  33. Pineapple
  34. Coconut
  35. Other fruits not grown in the U.S.
  36. Mushrooms
  37. Cucumber (except for the little baby ones)
  38. Cabbage
  39. Beets
  40. Green beans (okay, we know they come in the summer, but we buy them for Thanksgiving anyway)

What seasonal cues do you ignore to make your favorite or go-to recipes? And how does that make you feel? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • AntoniaJames
  • 702551
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Smaug June 15, 2016
I see that the California contingent is already well represented, but yeah. We do have a lot of options year round, so letting a few things go for a few months isn't so hard- our off seasons tend to be pretty short, too. I would think local and seasonal would be pretty difficult in someplace like Siberia or New York.
AntoniaJames June 15, 2016
Well, we are so fortunate here in Northern California. As cv said, we have so many locally grown options, year round. I almost never buy any produce other than at the farmers’ market or at small shops that source locally. My Meyer lemon tree bears throughout the year; when I can’t pick a lemon off the tree, I can usually find locally grown ones at a market, or get them from a neighbor. More and more, I'm preserving them (in a general sense - freezing juice and zest, turning into marmalade to be used in so many ways, making flavored syrups with zest and juice -- which I use for lemonade, by the way, whether or not I can get fresh lemons locally, for the convenience -- and of course, making traditional preserved lemon.) My herbs, except basil and, for a few months, tarragon, grow year round. I don’t buy oranges or grapefruit or kiwi out of season. In fact, as you may surmise, Sarah, from the comments on the apple advertorial recently, there are quite a few items on the list above that I don’t buy when not in season.
Am I the only one here who says goodbye to produce when its season ends and then joyfully welcomes it back the next year? But then, I also don’t understand the “eat dessert” or “eat chocolate” every day lifestyle. Reserving treats for special occasions makes those occasions, well, more special. Not eating produce items year round, choosing to forego them until they are at their best, locally grown and just picked, works the same way.
Seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, I recognize that people who don’t live in an area like this one may have a different perspective. ;o)
702551 June 15, 2016
You are definitely not the only one to say goodbye to produce when the season ends. Yes, I can still find asparagus spears at my farmers market, but I only buy from one farm (Zuckerman's) and when they are done, I am done.

The asparagus season for me is only two months, I look forward to their arrival toward the end of March knowing that in late May, I will have bought my last bunch of asparagus for the year.

Things become special when you don't have them everyday. If you celebrated your birthday every week, it would quickly lose its specialness.

Same thing with flowers. Yeah, you can buy imported tulips, roses, or daffodils all year long. For me, it's a great joy to see daffodils early in the year on the side of the road or in a field, because it means that the ground is warming up.

Some people seem to equate "I can eat this" with "I should eat this." I don't understand that mindset. Time and time again, we get breakfast related articles here that identify pancakes, waffles, cakes, pastries, etc. as breakfast staples. First of all, they're not particularly healthy for you and all of the specialness of a waffle is gone if you eat them regularly.

It's the same with big buffets at a resort. If I load up my plate with everything, I will quickly find myself bored with the buffet. If I select just a few items, I can try something different the next time.

In a similar vein, it's like playing Christmas music all year long. And some people do that. I just don't get it.
702551 June 15, 2016

We're in the minority on this topic.

Here we are enjoying the bounty of one of the most agriculturally blessed places in this country and *WE* are the ones who care more about seasonality than the people who see more extreme changes in season.

So strange.
AntoniaJames June 15, 2016
I only eat potatoes from Zuckermans! And I stand firm that storage apples in June (glad to see they're not on the list of 40 above) are, quite simply, even if "tasty," joyless. ;o)
702551 June 15, 2016
Depends on where you live.

Apart from the tropical fruit, here in California most of the items listed grow year round, they are very easy to find at my town's farmers market.

One example:

Rosemary is used here in California rather frequently in outdoor landscaping as an decorative shrub, for its purported pest control abilities as well as its fragrance and drought tolerance. As an evergreen, you can harvest rosemary all year long here.

Thyme is also an evergreen perennial shrub that tolerates drought well. I find that thyme bushes get a bit scraggly after a few years so it's worth replanting on occasion. That is not necessary with rosemary here in California.

For sure the root veggies and leafy greens grow all year long, maybe some of it comes from hothouses during the winter.

I buy 98% of my produce at my town's farmers market, there's always something delicious regardless of the time of year.

You must like garlic. You listed it twice! :-)