6 Fruits and Veggies That Are in Season in March (Have You Heard of #6?)

Peak season
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March is here, which means we’ve officially survived another winter. For some, it was pretty brutal. For others (that’s us here in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida!), it was a little less so. Whatever your winter looked like, though, we all had one thing in common: a lack of fresh, yummy produce in our kitchens.

But with the beginning of spring — I see you March 20 — comes the beginning of a glorious onslaught of bright berries, tender veggies and juicy fruits, and the reopening of farmers markets across the country.

Below you’ll find six fruits and vegetables in peak season in March. Remember, peak season means lower prices, Penny Hoarders — so keep an eye out the next time you head to your local grocery store!

1. Florida: Strawberries

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Let’s kick things off with my favorite produce in my favorite state: March is peak season for strawberries in Florida. And apparently, we really want the world to know it. Which might be why we even have a 10-day festival devoted to strawberries where you can munch on strawberry shortcake, strawberry milkshakes, strawberry kettle corn, strawberry dessert pizza and even a strawberry hamburger. (And no, that last one’s not a dessert — it’s a real hamburger patty topped with strawberries.)

And that’s not the half of it. I’m telling you, we really like our strawberries.

And if you’re curious about how a strawberry burger tastes, wonder no longer. Try this summer burger with strawberries from In My Red Kitchen. (The recipe is paleo, but you could easily add a bun if you feel a burger is just not a burger without the bread.) It’s perfectly balanced with the sweet strawberries, the salty bacon and the bitter red onion.

Sure, California out-produces Florida in strawberries by, well, a lot, but I like to think we here in Florida just value the strawberry a little more. Come at me, California.

2. California: Cherimoyas

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Speaking of…

Alright, alright, so California does some cool stuff sometimes.

And these heart-shaped, scaly looking fruits might be one of the coolest. Mark Twain famously called cherimoyas the “most delicious fruit known to men.” And since it’s often described as a combination of coconut, mango, banana, strawberry, pineapple and papaya flavors, he might be right. It’s pretty much all the tropical fruits rolled up into one creamy little treat.

To get the full flavor experience, many people say it’s best to eat cherimoyas right out of the skin with a spoon, but they’re also a perfect smoothie add-in. If you really want to dress it up, try this raw custard recipe from Unconventional Baker.

3. California (I know, I know): Asparagus

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I promise, guys, the interior states will start seeing more local variety in April. But for now, your friendly neighbors on the coasts have got you covered.

March is prime time for asparagus, and California is one of the top producers of this weird little spear-shaped veggie (in the U.S., anyway). The year-round asparagus you find in grocery stores is imported mostly from China and Peru, and it lacks the earthy tenderness that is indicative of fresh, local asparagus.

As for how to prepare asparagus, nothing beats a little olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a quick roast to bring out its unique flavor. But that sounds like a cop out, so here’s my new favorite way to use asparagus (second only to the aforementioned roasting), courtesy of The New York Times Cooking. The extra perk here is that it’s all made in one pan — less dishwashing always gets the stamp of approval in my book!

4. Washington: Leeks

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Lookie here! The northern states are starting to get some green! (I mean, it is still a coastal state but you gotta take what you can get.)

Leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic, but they taste different enough that you don’t want to use them interchangeably — even an average palate (raises hand) can tell the difference. But leeks are supposed to be really good for you, so you can give yourself a smug little pat on the back after you eat.

While cooks don’t use leeks exactly like onions, they do work really well in creamy soups, and alongside potatoes and pastas — and also in a lot of really fancy (read: pricy) dishes I added to my “maybe I’ll try these someday when I’m feeling adventurous” list — the one that I’ll probably never actually get to. But I prefer to stay optimistic. However, I did stumble upon this little gem from How Sweet It Is. And with just four inexpensive ingredients and one pan, it might end up in my weekly rotation.

5. Georgia: Green Peas (or English Peas)

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To me, spring hasn’t started until there’s talk of peas. It’s just their time to shine, and it makes me wonder why I only ever used to eat them around the winter holidays. I grew up eating the canned variety pretty exclusively but have since discovered fresh green peas are where it’s at. Unlike their canned cousins, right-off-the-vine green peas are almost refreshing — which is weird for a veggie.

But it’s true: You can use peas without all the creamy, cheesy goop on top — in my humble opinion, they’re even tastier this way. Try this recipe from My Recipes. Bonus points: It includes asparagus — another March favorite.

6. Hawaii: Rambutans

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I know, I know. Hawaii is really far away from the rest of us. But remember, produce is shipped in at lower prices during peak season, so this might be the only time of year that rambutans even make it to certain parts of the continental U.S.

Now rambut– wait, what was that? Are you telling me you don’t know what rambutans are?!

(Just kidding, I didn’t know before this either. But now, I’m a little obsessed.)

Folks most often describe rambutans as “the fruit from Mars.” They’re part dragon egg, part sea urchin and wholly alien. However, these spiky little red orbs taste familiar — they’re similar in taste and texture to lychees or maybe even a peeled grape. They’re a common snack in Asia and are becoming increasingly popular in tropical countries, and the best place to find them is your neighborhood Asian market.

And because you’ve made it through my attempt at describing these weird little fruits, here’s your reward: a recipe for a rambutan cocktail from Honest Cooking. Grilled fruit, tequila and some smoked finishing salt make for a perfect cozy-yet-fresh transition into spring.

No More Winter Blues

And just like that, we’ve entered the time of year when everything seems bright and new compared to the gloomy chill of winter.

Up north, people are transitioning from their heavy wool coats to their lighter trenches. (At least I think that’s what’s happening. All I know about the north is what I see on TV.)

Down south, people are just trying to decide which swimsuit to wear to the beach next week.

But across the country, we’re all just glad to have some color and flavor back in our kitchens.

Peak season

Your Turn: Did I leave out your favorite March fruit or veggie? Let me know in the Facebook comments!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Born and raised in Florida, she really has no notion of that thing called winter.