Seasonal Winter Foods for Sustainable Living

pinto beans Photos courtesy (usda.gov)
pinto beans Photo by Scott Bauer. Courtesy (USDA.gov)

Living In Season means living in harmony and balance. Eating food in season helps to accomplish that goal. I created this chart of seasonal winter foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat and fish to help me eat seasonally and locally. I decided to share it with you because I couldn’t find a comprehensive chart on the Internet and assumed you couldn’t either.

These foods are in season in North American climates like mine with cool to cold winters and warm summers. I draw from my own experience as the ‘volunteer’ field hand in my grandparents garden/mini-farm, in my own garden, hanging out in farmer’s markets and fill-in information from a great book, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs.  Karen Page who wrote this book also wrote another that will probably be fantastic also, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based on the Wisdom of Leading American Chefs. The wonderful thing about Ms. Pages books is they are full of lists of flavors that go together and complement each other. This is great for a ‘pantry cook’ like me who buys food to restock my pantry (freezer, refrigerator) and then decides to cook from what I have on hand. From the Flavor Bible I learned to add nutmeg to my spinach dishes. Delicious.

My maternal grandparents (originally farmers from South Carolina) rented farmland in Eagleville, Pa, the whole time I was growing up and well in my adult years. We grew most of the vegetables our families ate, picked fruit and ‘put food by’  in the freezer, by drying and canning. My grandfather hunted and fished. My grandmother gardened and farmed. Game meats were a staple on our tables along with the hogs my grandfather bought from a local hog farmer and the ducks, goats and chickens he raised himself.

You get to reap the benefits of the long summer mornings I spent on my hands and knees picking string beans and afternoons shucking corn. I will post a seasonal food list at the beginning of each season this year. Bon Appétit!

Vegetables, Legumes, Grains, Seeds and Nuts

  • beans, lentils (dried)
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • grains (dried)
  • greens, winter (kale, collards)
  • mushrooms, “wild”
  • nuts (chestnuts, walnuts, pecans)
  • potatoes
  • root vegetables  (carrots, parsnips, yams, turnips, etc.)
  • squashes, winter (acorn, pumpkin, butternut, etc. the hard skin ones that can be stored in a root cellar)
  • sunchoke (jerusalem artichoke)
  • canned, dried and frozen vegetables you bought in the summer and fall for winter meals

Fruits

  • bananas, plantains
  • citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits, limes, tangerines, mandarin oranges)
  • dates
  • dried fruits
  • pears
  • passion fruit
  • canned, dried and frozen fruits you bought in summer and fall to eat in the winter meals

Meat/Fish

  • beef
  • game meats (venison, etc.)
  • shellfish (lobster, mussels, etc.)
  • squid
  • canned, dried and frozen meats you bought, hunted, fished in the fall and stored to eat for winter meals

Deep rich flavors like chocolate, caramel, maple syrup and honey

Full-bodied red wines like merlot, bordeaux, zinfandels and cabernet sauvignon

Rich white wines like chardonnays (oaked), pinot gris, riesling

Cooking methods like slow-cooking, roasting, stewing, braising, simmering, baking and making soups

Warming spices like black pepper, ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cayenne

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