Life + Garden

What’s in Season: The Best Winter Fruits and Vegetables

'Tis the season for gorgeous greens, jewel-like citrus and pomegranates, and more

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
15% off New Year Sale
$7.02 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on 17 Outside network publications: Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, Outside & more
  • More than 100 diet-specific meal plans
  • Extended member-only yoga pose library with how-to instruction
  • Today’s Plan training platform with customized training plans
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Vegetarian Times

Print + Digital
50% Off New Year Sale
$2.00 / month*

  • Annual subscription to a magazine of your choice from the Outside network
  • Access to all member-exclusive content on VegetarianTimes.com
  • Ad-free access to VegetarianTimes.com
Join Vegetarian Times

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Winter may not be the season you most associate with fresh produce – especially if you live in a place where wind and snow may a damper on your weekly stroll through the farmer’s market – but thinks aren’t as bleak as they may seem. The best winter fruits and vegetables are bright gems on these cold dark days. Here are some of our favorites.

The Best Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Everything Citrus

Explore new citrus fruits like Cara Cara and Moro (aka Blood) oranges for fresh snacks, mixed into salads or juiced to add flavor to a sauce. Try Fairchild tangerines and Satsuma or Royal Mandarins for snacking or to add to salads. For an unexpected treat, try tangelos. A cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, tangelos boast a juicy, sweetly tart and mild flavor.

SELECT: Heavy fruits with shiny, smooth skins and no bruising. Tenderness when squeezed indicates juiciness.
STORE: In refrigerator in crisper for up to 2 weeks. Wash skins before cutting or zesting.
EAT: Peel and eat out of hand, or cut into segments and add to salads and stir-frys. Use fresh squeezed juice in marinades or sauces.

Broccoli Rabe

An Italian broccoli variety, brococoli rabe produces thin stalks with vibrant green leaves and sparser tops than the large heads of its common cousin. It has an appealing bitterness that lends itself to quick sautes with sausage links, garlic and a touch of heat from red pepper flakes.

SELECT: Look for bright green leaves, firm stalks and relatively few buds or open flowers. Avoid bunches with yellowed leaves and dry stalks.
STORE: Remove the wire twist or rubber band that secures the bundle, roll up in dry paper towel and store in a loosely sealed plastic bag in refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days.
EAT: Cook as you would broccoli: sauteed, steamed, stir-fried or braised. To serve cold in salads, blanch first to lessen the naturally bitter flavor.

Kale

Lacinato or Tuscan Kale is a member of the cabbage family (Brassica). The low-calorie, high-fiber green is related to broccoli, collard greens and cauliflower, but forms either flat or frilly leaves rather than a budding head.

SELECT: Sturdy and firm bunches with deep colored leaves and hardy, fresh-looking stems.
STORE: Remove wire wrap or rubber band that secures the bundle, roll up in dry paper towel and store in a loosely sealed plastic bag in refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days. Wash just before serving to minimize spoilage.
EAT: Chop and use as a delicious alternative to spinach in soups, stews, sautes, curries, and frittatas. Pairs well with garlic, bell peppers, chile peppers, onions and tomatoes.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates have long been tied to Greek mythology and the story of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the grains and the harvest. Its brilliant-colored seeds contain anthocyanins and tannins, antioxidants that boost your levels of paraoxonase, an enzyme that may work to break down LDL or “bad cholesterol.”

SELECT: Large fruits that feel heavy for their size, with smooth, shiny, blemish-free skin. Some stores sell fresh pomegranate arils already extracted from the fruit.
STORE: Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month. To refrigerate, extract arils and store them in a sealed container for up to one week.
EAT: Slice top from fruit to expose arils, then score the skin by slicing it from top to bottom in quarters, exposing the white flesh. Submerge in a bowl of cool water and use your fingers to pry sections apart; scoop out arils and drain. Eat seeds as salad toppings or juice them for concentrated pomegranate juice.

Sweet Potatoes

Orange-hued sweet potatoes, especially the darker varieties (such as Garnet or Beauregard), are often mislabeled as yams, which are thick, starchy tubers native to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The darker varieties are much higher in beta-carotene than the lighter sweet potatoes, so opt for them in your seasonal cooking.

SELECT: Firm, heavy potatoes with smooth, bruise-free skin. Choose ones that are uniform in size for even cooking.
STORE: Loosely sealed in a paper bag in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks.
EAT: Boiled and mashed to accompany poultry or pork, cubed and sauteed with onions, garlic, fresh ginger and herbs, or sliced into wedges and baked with olive oil and sea salt.

 


Now that you know the best winter fruits and veggies, find our guides to the best produce of every season 


Get more of what you love from VT. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and sign up for our email newsletters.