Five years ago, if I had seen the title of this blog I would have thought “it’s too cold to eat seasonally during Utah winters.” Fast forward a few years and with the wisdom of working in a grocery store I have learned how wrong I was!
Of course, the Wasatch front has a short growing season (approximately 150 frost-free days) which means realistically we are not going to be growing fresh produce much of the time. However, proper storing techniques, greenhouse growing, and our global food system allow us to have a variety of products during the depths of winter.
It is important to make the distinction between local produce and seasonal produce. During winter our only local items are greenhouse tomatoes and pistachios. Otherwise, we are importing seasonal produce from other growing regions. Last but not least, remember that seafood has seasons and choosing the right species during winter can help you eat more seasonally.
Why should you try to eat seasonally this winter? Seasonal produce is more likely to be harvested at the right time versus being picked early and then ripened once it reaches its destination. This generally means:
- Better flavor
- Better nutrition
- Lower cost
How to eat seasonally during Utah winters:
1. Proper Storage
Remember back in August when you had more tomatoes than you knew what to do with? Or that time you bought a flat of berries because the deal was just too good? Take advantage of summer abundance and store these foods so you can enjoy them all winter long. Jarring, pickling, freezing and drying are all ways you can extend the shelf life of your seasonal produce to enjoy during winter.
You might be surprised at how much you can freeze. Nearly all produce can be frozen to store for a later time.
Several items such as winter squashes, onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, and rutabaga can be stored for 1-2 months in the proper environment. Fruits like apples and pears (if picked before peak ripeness) can also be stored this way. Temperatures vary depending on the item, but an unheated garage or insulated shed may be appropriate (think of an old-fashioned root cellar). The vegetables can be consumed when you are ready. When you’re ready for the apples or pears, move them to room temperature to finish the ripening process.
2. Know What’s In Season
Items from different growing regions come into season during the winter. Here are some examples:
|Pomegranates and yams (California)
|Avocados (Chile and Mexico), potatoes (California and Idaho)
|Citrus (California and Florida), pineapple (Caribbean)
|Citrus continues, asparagus begins at the end of February
|Grapes (Chile), asparagus season continues (California)
|Strawberries and Artichokes (California)
Many items are available year-round in California such as broccoli and cauliflower. Other items are available to us in storage such as winter squash, apples, onions, garlic, and potatoes. Mushrooms and tomatoes are grown year round in greenhouses. For more information, the Seasonal Food Guide is a great resource. You can also stop into your local Harmons and ask our produce associates to learn what’s in season.
3. Consider Seasonal Seafood
While wild salmon is really popular seafood, it is not in season during winter. Dungeness crab, spiny lobster, prawns, sea bass, and swordfish are some wild winter items that would be a more seasonal choice. Sustainable farm practices also supply year-round items such as mussels, oysters, salmon, sole, squid, rockfish, and spot prawns.
Have additional questions about eating seasonally? Join our Seasonal Winter Wonder cooking class coming up on Friday, December 20 at Harmons Holladay Market. Sign up here. You can also e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org