Spring is a wonderful time for fresh produce, as the winter's harsh temperatures give way to milder weather and the earth begins to awaken with new growth. April is a particularly bountiful month, with a variety of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables coming into season. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the best seasonal produce that you can find during the month of April.
This post is the 4th in my Monthly Seasonal Produce Guides series.
For me, as a cook and a gardener, eating seasonally and eating local go hand in hand. The goal of eating seasonally is so that I can enjoy foods that are harvested as close to home as possible and that didn’t have to travel thousands of miles. This is why I am such a big proponent of homegrown food and edible gardening.
Much of the produce trucked from far away places is harvested early and forced to ripen before it hits your grocery store produce aisle. Another reason to seek out seasonal food? You’re supporting local farmers and that’s a good thing! So, what's in season in April?
This long, slender green vegetable is packed with nutrients like fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. It has a slightly grassy flavor that pairs well with a variety of dishes, making it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, marinated or baked. Asparagus is in season in early spring and should still be available locally in May.
Note: Though asparagus is typically available at the grocery store all year round, it grown in South America (Peru is a large producer of Asparagus for the world market). It is flown thousands of miles. I personally choose to enjoy asparagus when it is in season in the spring. A good tip is to check the label.
This spicy, leafy green is a good source of vitamin K, calcium, and antioxidants like sulforaphane. It has a slightly bitter flavor that pairs well with a variety of dishes, from salads to sandwiches. You can enjoy it as baby leaves (the kind you get in bags or clamshell containers) or as more mature bunches (which will be much more peppery and used more for cooking rather than raw eating).
Growing arugula in the home garden or a container is actually quite easy and I recommend it to anyone starting a food-growing journey.
These sweet, crunchy vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and antioxidants like beta-carotene. They have a slightly sweet, earthy flavor that pairs well with a variety of dishes. As a cool weather crop, they love the colder temperatures of fall, winter and spring. When shopping for carrots in April, look for bunched carrots. Smaller spring-harvested carrots are one of the earliest crops you can enjoy as the growing season kicks into gear.
These large, flat beans have a buttery, nutty flavor and are a good source of protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. They're often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, and they pair well with flavors like lemon, garlic, and mint.
Lettuce is a cool weather crop that thrives in the springtime. April is a great time to enjoy baby lettuce mixes, mesclun mixes and smaller heads of bibb or Boston lettuce. Another easy crop to grow in a container or pot.
A classic springtime vegetable, peas are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. They have a sweet, delicate flavor that's perfect for adding to salads, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. Local peas will be in season in March, April, May and even into June.
Included in my book is a recipe for Spring Pesto which features both peas and arugula.
Radishes are a crisp and slightly spicy root vegetable that can be enjoyed raw in slaws, cooked or even pickled. They are high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. They are also incredibly easy to grow yourself in your home garden or even containers. Radishes are one of the first crops to be harvested from my garden in the spring.
This tart, reddish-pink vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable even though it is used in sweet recipes) is a good source of fiber, calcium, and antioxidants like flavonoids. It has a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that's perfect for adding to pies, jams, tarts and other desserts. April usually marks the beginning of field-grown rhubarb.
Note: The local rhubarb available in January, February and March is forced, meaning that it is grown in dark conditions and forced to produce stalks. These stalks will be lighter in color and slightly skinnier than your typical rhubarb stalks harvested from the field in the spring (April, May, June).
Spinach is another leafy green that is in season in April. It is considered a cool weather crop and thrives in colder temperatures. It dislikes the heat, so the season for field-grown spinach is quite short. Versatile, nutritious and can be enjoyed in salads, smoothies, or cooked as a side dish.
Note: Greenhouse-grown spinach is available year-round, typically sold in bags or clamshell plastic containers at the grocery store produce aisle. Local field spinach is only available for a short time, typically in March, April and May. Once the weather warms up, it is no longer available unless farmers take special measures to protect it from the summer heat.
Spring onions, also known as green onions or scallions, are a type of onion that comes into season in March. They are essentially an immature onion that is harvested early. The color can be green or purple and they will sometimes have a small bulb (this is a good thing!). They have a mild, sweet flavor and are usually eaten raw or lightly cooked. Spring onions are high in vitamin K and low in calories. They are a good source of fiber, making them a healthy choice. Add them to salads or use them as garnish. I love grilling and charring them and using them in salsa and sauces.
These juicy, red berries are a good source of vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants like flavonoids and ellagic acid. They have a sweet, tangy flavor that's perfect for adding to desserts like tarts or tossing into a salad or smoothie.
Asian greens (bok choi, tatsoi and others) as well as mustards and arugula love the cool temperatures of spring. They are in season March, April and May. Stir-fried, steamed, added to salad. In fact, many baby Asian greens are added to salad mixes to add a peppery bite to otherwise bland lettuce.
I created a handy graphic for you here. Go ahead and Pin it so you can refer to it again and again.
Seasonal food is very regionally specific. Something might be in season in California and not in season in New York. For example, strawberries are in season in California year-round. In New York, Ontario, and other parts of the North East, local strawberries will be in season in June and July.
The best way to know your food is in season? Shop at local farmers’ markets and ask questions. Look at the grocery store labels and tags.
April marks the beginning of the outdoor growing season in many parts of the world. In season vegetables and fruits include lettuce, arugula, peas, fava beans, strawberries, rhubarb, spring onions, spring carrots and radishes.