This is my Quick Start Guide To Seasonal Cooking! Here you’ll find out what seasonal cooking is and what’s in season anytime of the year. This is the way I love to cook, cherishing each season and finding new ways to gather people around the table to celebrate.
Cooking seasonally is one of my top priorities because it is a fantastic way to celebrate where you live, eat a wider range of fruits and vegetables, as well as understand the seasons as they change.
Though this blog didn’t start off with a seasonal focus, you may have noticed that it has gone that direction in the last handful of years. In addition to creating recipes that are uncomplicated and gather people around the table, I want to food that I put out to be in season (or inspire you for upcoming seasons, you know since we are all basically thinking about Christmas right now, LOL).
So, what is seasonal cooking?
When it comes to seasonal cooking, it’s all about embracing a natural way of life. Let’s face it, this isn’t really a new concept. Before we could get whatever vegetable or fruit we wanted from the local megastore, we really could only choose from what was local and in season. Instead we are going back to a way of life that we as humans used to live until the modern age.
The more and more I cook my way through recipes each year, the more I think about where my food is coming from.
In case you didn’t know, seasonal food is produce that is purchased close to the time that it was harvested.
I don’t know about you, but I am always looking to embrace seasonal ingredients. It becomes increasingly apparent how important that is when you are cooking on a daily basis, and multiple recipes a day at that.
All foods have a season and it’s about time we got excited about each changing of the seasons, simply for the new variety of fruits and vegetables that are available to us. I mean, when fall rolls in, it’s no wonder everyone freaks out about everything pumpkin or apple. With each season, you have a whole new ingredients list to use.
I like to think seasonal cooking is something that many us aspire to do more often, but sometimes we don’t know how to answer even the most basic question, “what’s in season?”
How do I know what is in season?
This is the most obvious question that you need to answer when it comes to cooking in season. The more you know about what is in season, the better you’ll be able to meal plan and choose recipes to make each day or week. I’ve put together a list for each season below. Note this is called a quick start guide for a reason! This is not every single piece of produce that is in season each year, but they are some of the most popular (and some personal favorites of mine).
Whenever spring starts, I’m always so thrilled to take a step out of the heavy comfort food, and into something fresh and bright.
Fruit lovers unite, because summer is the season to embrace!
Skip the PSL and enjoy some fresh pumpkin in your own homemade recipes, among many other favorites. There’s a reason this is my favorite season.
Snuggle up and get into your comfort zone, because it’s all about hearty ingredients to warm you up from the inside out here.
Why is eating seasonally important?
Once you get into the swing of eating seasonal food, it will become second nature to you after the first year or so (you know, so you have enough time to get to know all four seasons!). But why is it so important to do this?
Well, the most obvious is that organic seasonal foods are generally grown closer to you so they don’t spoil during transit, harvested at the peak of freshness (you need all those nutrients!), and sold during its season before it’s forced to be unnaturally preserved.
In addition to this, when you choose to eat seasonally, you are supporting local farmers, adding a broad amount of different foods to your diet, saving money (hellloooooo seasonal food is CHEAPER), and you get the best, healthiest food available.
The flavor of everything is fresher and tastier when it is eaten in season versus food consumed out of season.
Now I know that eating seasonally isn’t always possible – we all have busy lives and sometimes time restraints or picky palates prevail. However, making the simple effort to do this a few times a week will really make a difference. It only starts with a few times a week, then before you know it you’ll be in a routine of cooking seasonal almost every single night.
Not to mention it might inspire you to start preserving, canning, fermenting, and other cooking techniques to keep those fresh flavors and use them year round when you are missing them. At least that’s a goal of mine!
My Favorite Seasonal Cookbooks
The Flavor Bible – while this isn’t a cookbook, it’s a fantastic guide to figure out what ingredients go together (in addition to when they are in season). It’s the book I use every single week when planning my recipes and I love referring to it when I have produce leftover and I don’t know what to do with it.
The Farmers Market Cookbook – this cookbook is great guide to eating seasonal with creative recipes like cantaloupe salsa!
The First Mess Cookbook – if you are looking for something with more plant-based recipes, this is the cookbook for you. The recipes are all vegan and even if you aren’t vegan, it’s great for ways to get creative with healthy recipes or Meatless Monday dinners.
The Farm Cooking School – this book is incredibly inexpensive and teaches not only recipes, but also techniques to carry you through the seasons.
True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure – exactly what the title says (and with plenty of good reviews to back it up!).
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