From oyster mushrooms to brussel sprouts, here’s what vegetables are in season for winter. Plus, learn how to store them, how to cook with them, and discover what makes them the healthiest choice.
Healthiest Vegetables To Eat During Winter
Say ‘so long’ to peach and strawberry season, and welcome a fresh new batch of seasonal produce. In this short guide, you're going to learn the importance of eating seasonally, the healthiest (and tastiest!) winter vegetables, and how to get the most out of your produce during the winter months.
Why is eating seasonally important?
Have you ever noticed that apples taste a little sweeter in the colder months? This is because they’re actually in season!
When foods are grown out of season, they’re harvested early and may be treated with ripening agents such as chemicals, gases, and heat processes. This allows them to be mass-produced and distributed across the country, but it can diminish the quality, nutrition, and flavor of the produce—yuck!
Eating seasonally means you’re getting fresher, better tasting, more nutrient-dense foods. And if that weren’t enough, you’re able to support local farmers, which is a BIG plus!
Don't know what's in season this winter? Don't worry. We put together this handy "cheat sheet" for your next grocery store visit.
The best winter vegetables at a glance
Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually need fruits to get your daily boost of vitamin C. Just 1 cup of cabbage contains over half your daily recommended intake. And antioxidants? Well, you don't need berries to get plenty of these powerful health compounds. Winter veggies like kale, cabbage, and beets all contain impressive amounts of antioxidants to keep your body healthy and your natural defenses strong.
Here are some of the healthiest vegetables you should eat this winter.
- Lamb’s lettuce
- Land cress
- Wild rocket
- Cruciferous Vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
- Wood ears
- Winter chanterelles
- Oyster mushrooms
- Root vegetables:
- Jerusalem artichoke
Storage tips & recipes for winter vegetables
So you come home from the market with your arms full of chicory, kale, mushrooms, and parsnips- but now what? Below you’ll find our list of practical storage tips to help your new groceries last as long as possible.
Chicory is a typical autumn and winter salad that you can usually buy fresh from October to March. The buds taste especially good raw in a salad or with sweet fruits such as seasonal apples or oranges, which soften the bitter notes.
You can also sauté, braise or stir-fry this tasty winter vegetable, lay it on a bowl of warm rice, or accompany it with a delicious pasta dish.
When picking chicory, look for buds that are still tightly closed, have no brown spots, and have a soft yellow shimmer
Storage tip: Wrap it in a damp cloth and store it in the fridge to contain the freshness.
Lamb's lettuce, a nutty kind of salad green, is a must in every winter salad bowl. Shorter leaves and tightly closed bunches are a sign that the lettuce has an intensely nutty, slightly peppery aroma. Lamb's lettuce tastes best in combination with fruits and (roasted) nuts, seeds, and spicy ingredients.
Cruciferous vegetables have long been a staple of the cold winter months and is freshest between November and February. And while it’s typically used for stews, veggie bowls, and soups, you can also use many of these veggies as raw ingredients in delicious green smoothies. Yum!
Tip: If the cabbage has already had its first frost before harvest, it is a little milder and easier to digest, as the starch it contains converts into sugar! However, kale is tastiest when it has already been frosted before harvest.
If raw kale isn't your thing, you can simply sauté it as a side dish with a little apple cider vinegar or use it in soups, curries, or dahl.
Storage tip: fresh cabbage (unwashed!) can be stored for about 5 days in the vegetable compartment of the fridge. If you have bought too much cabbage, you can also simply freeze it in portion sizes, then you will have it all winter long!
Mushrooms are grown all year round and are a particularly popular ingredient in pasta sauces or risotto.
As a tasty alternative, oyster mushrooms are also in season in winter. They are full of vitamin B and provide vegetable protein, which is why they are a popular meat alternative. Oyster mushrooms taste mild and nutty, perfect for risotto or stew.
Storage tip: fresh mushrooms are best consumed within 1-2 days. Otherwise, store them lightly wrapped in paper in the refrigerator next to each other. Air-dried, vacuum-packed mushrooms can last up to 6 months!
Leek is not only a delicious and versatile vegetable, but it's also full of healthy nutrients such as iron, potassium, and vitamin C. That's why it's even considered a medicinal plant. Leeks are best used in soups and stews, but they are also delicious as a side dish, as a topping for quiches, or in casseroles.
You can recognize fresh leeks by their firm roots and shafts. If the leaves are already loosening and you find cracks or discoloration, the leek is no longer good.
Storage tip: Leeks can be stored in a cool, dry place for about 3-4 weeks and in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. There are a few things to keep in mind here: it is best to wrap it in a plastic bag so that other food does not absorb the smell of the leek. In addition, leeks, like many other vegetables, react sensitively to the ripening gas ethylene, which is emitted by apples or tomatoes for example, so you should store leeks separately from these types of ingredients.
You can freeze leeks in small pieces for 10-12 months.
Turnips & Tubers
Parsnips, the yellow-white cousin of the carrot, go particularly well in soups or stir-fries due to their sweet and spicy taste. The delicious winter vegetable is high in fiber and provides valuable nutrients such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Yellow-fleshed turnips are a low-calorie and very nutritious winter vegetable that you can eat both raw and cooked.
Make room on your plate for Jerusalem artichoke. The small tuber has a slightly nutty taste and is reminiscent of artichokes or chestnuts. Due to its high content of dietary fiber inulin and vitamins, Jerusalem artichoke is considered a true gut ally. You can enjoy the tuber both cooked and sautéed.
Salsify, also known as winter asparagus, can be cooked in soups or as if you were preparing a cabbage dish. It is best to buy salsify between October and February.
Storage tip: it is best to store the unwashed tubers in a cool, dry place for up to 10 days. Washed and cut, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Not sure how to eat all those delicious veggies? Make sure to have a look at the recipe blog for some inspiration!
Text: Kellyn Legath