Every January I start to get strawberry fever. You know what I mean. You go to the supermarket, stare at the strawberries and their astounding price of $4.99 for that wee carton you could eat in one sitting, and you think, well, why not? They look tantalizingly red and plump. And they’re strawberries. How bad can it be? But then you get home and that first (in)delectable take a bite. American supermarket produce is in a state of poor quality year round, but out of season it’s downright disgraceful. I remember the first time I saw a someone putting sugar on strawberries. I confess, I found it quite gauche. Fruit is supposed to be juicy, bursting with sweet flavor. Smothering it with processed white table sugar most often made of sugar beets? Yech.
To every would-be foodie, there’s one maxim that can’t be repeated enough: buy in season or not at all. It’s truly essential if you want peak flavor. So what’s in store for the winter months, specifically January-February? Citrus fruits and dark greens. Root vegetables, most harvested in autumn to early winter, are also great choices as they store well.
For experimentation sake, I just ordered some super juicy honeybells from Cushman’s in Florida (oranges only available in January). Can’t wait! Click on the photo to visit them.
I’m also looking forward to Tarocco blood oranges, which also just came into season this month. They’re wonderful eaten fresh but also delicious baked. Smitten kitten has an amazing looking flaky blood orange tart I’m dying to try.
There’s a great chart to print out here for seasonal produce. I’m pasting it right on my cook book cabinet for easy reference, but even if you don’t have it while shopping, just use grocery store prices as a guide. If something seems high, then its either out of season, or by ill fortune, affected my some major weather.