As temperatures continue to drop, winter is slowly ramping up. Despite gloomier days and colder weather, the season provides us with plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables, ranging from tart citrus fruits to bitter greens. Here are some of Foodsmart's favorite kinds of winter produce.
Winter is a great time to enjoy a variety of bitter greens. Of all the different types, broccoli rabe — also known as rapini — is one of my favorites. Even though it’s available year-round, it’s at its prime during the winter months. From its leafy stalk to its tender buds, the entire vegetable is edible and tastes like a hybrid of broccoli and mustard greens. Its versatility and slightly bitter flavor make it a great addition to pasta, on top of pizza, or even sautéed with garlic and served as a side dish.
Health Benefits: In addition to being delicious, broccoli rabe is a nutrition powerhouse. Just one cup contains over 20 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and more than 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, an important nutrient that promotes bone health.
Tips: When buying broccoli rabe, make sure to choose a bunch with thin stalks and as few flowers as possible. To store the vegetable, wrap it in a damp paper towel and leave it in the vegetable drawer to keep it fresh for up to five days.
Cabbage is a part of the cruciferous family, which also includes kale and Brussels sprouts. In the U.S., we are most familiar with Dutch cabbage, which is the purple and green head usually found in the supermarket.
Although Dutch cabbage is the most popular type, there are plenty of others to try. Savoy cabbage has a sweeter flavor with crinkled leaves, while Napa cabbage has ridged leaves and is oval in shape. Cabbage happens to be one of the more culturally diverse vegetables, too; it’s used in Korea to make kimchi and Hungary to make stuffed cabbage.
Health Benefits: Aside from being a great source of vitamin C (a cup of chopped cabbage boasts more than 50 percent of your daily recommended intake), cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables have also been linked to the reduction of certain cancers.
Tip: When choosing a head of cabbage, look for a dense and firm one that’s free of cracks and blemishes.
Just like apples, there are many different kinds of citrus ranging from tiny, golden kumquats to ruby red grapefruit. Citrus is at its peak in winter, and offers a much needed burst of color during colder months.
Citrus fruits come in a variety of different flavors, colors, textures and shapes. While Navel and Valencia oranges offer a juicy sweetness that’s great for eating right away, Meyer lemons steal the show in desserts like cakes and tarts due to their sweet-but-tart nature. The slight bitterness of grapefruit can be paired perfectly with warm winter spices, while the juice from lemons and limes can increase a dish’s acidity and enhance the flavor.
Health Benefits: As you probably know, citrus is high in vitamin C, which can help prevent upper respiratory illnesses — meaning it’s perfect for cold and flu season.
Tips: When choosing citrus, pick fruits that are firmer and heavier without any blemishes or soft spots. Most citrus fruits can be kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. While you can store them in the fridge to increase their shelf life, know that it may diminish the flavor a bit.
Turnips start to appear in farmers’ markets in early November and typically stick around until late February. As a member of the cabbage family, turnips have a mildly sweet flavor that makes the vegetable one of the more versatile additions to your pantry during winter. They can be roasted, baked, braised, sautéed or even fried.
Health Benefits: One cup of mashed turnips contains more than 40 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, along with several B vitamins, calcium, and potassium. And don't throw out the turnip greens! They are a great source of vitamins C and K.
Tip: Avoid buying larger turnips, as they tend to have more of a woody texture and a less-than-appealing taste.
Do you have a favorite recipe using winter produce? Share in the comments below!