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Old 07-07-2019, 01:35 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
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What fruits and vegetables are only offered seasonally vs year round on US grocery stores


I don't pay a lot of attention to fruit as I only really eat bananas and apples as far as fruit goes. Those seem to be year round.

Are there fruits or vegetables that are only available seasonally rather than year round or is almost everything available year round now?
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Old 07-07-2019, 01:42 PM
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Cherries and good strawberries. By "good" strawberries I'm specifically exclusing those miserable Driscoll California ones that look great but taste like they were carved out of balsa wood. Other stone fruits like peaches and nectarines and plums are not to be found in winter either because they don't transport well. Watermelon is a hard find in winter too. Summer squash like zucchini tend to make themselves scarce as the weather gets colder.

Last edited by SmartAleq; 07-07-2019 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 01:50 PM
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I don't eat much watermelon but have noticed it's not as common in winter. Didn't notice if it was totally gone though.

Who makes the good strawberries? Is be open to trying some better ones
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Old 07-07-2019, 02:56 PM
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Good strawberries are always going to be local because good strawberries are ripened in the field until they're soft and sweet and as such they don't transport worth a damn. Here in Oregon we have the Hood variety--they're an early bearing plant that starts producing in mid to late May and the season for them is over sometime in June but while they're available they're amazing. I buy half flats at minimum (six pints) at farm stands and basically live on the things for a month or so.

We also have Rainier cherries, which have started to become more common in other areas as people figure out how good they are and plant trees. Rainier cherries are awesome for the same reason as Hood strawberries--they're very sweet and bruise easily and because they're a yellow/blush variety the bruises really show so transporting them more than a couple hundred miles maximum is going to be a logistical nightmare.

To find the best fruits in your area, find local farmer's markets or roadside fruit stands where fresh picked produce is sold hours after it left the field. You'll pay a little more but you're paying the grower directly and giving them all the love for doing the hard work.

Last edited by SmartAleq; 07-07-2019 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:06 PM
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Fiddlehead ferns and ramps
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:21 PM
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Figs. Good figs, like the nice big ones from the the Mediterranean or turkey. Not the slimy bland ones from California that are about the size of 4 or 5 quarters stacked atop each other..

Very short window of availability.
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:07 PM
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I seems to me that pretty much any stonefruit (peaches, plums, etc) are available only for a few months of the year.

I also miss Sumo Mandarins the 10 months of the year when they are not available.
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:25 PM
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As mentioned above, most fruits and vegetables are available year-round today. However, GOOD fruits and vegetables, especially locally grown are seasonal. Non-local fruits like bananas and apples and vegetables like tomatoes are usually picked green and sometimes forced to ripen quickly for sale. If you can find locally grown, picked at peak ripeness fruits and vegetables, you'll find their flavor and texture is completely different from what you're likely used to.
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:44 PM
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Putting on my old man hat...

I wonder what children of this generation and the next will consider the "real taste" of fruit, especially with artificial flavors (e.g. banana, blueberry, raspberry, etc.) so prevalent. I believe I'm old enough to have eaten Gros Michel bananas in the 60's and remember the current Cavendesh bananas being more flavorful into the '70's. With the Cavendesh probably facing the same fate as the Gros Michel (commercially not viable due to plant disease), what the current and next generation consider the taste of a banana may be completely different from what we know.
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:58 PM
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As mentioned above, most fruits and vegetables are available year-round today. However, GOOD fruits and vegetables, especially locally grown are seasonal.
This. For most (not all) produce, shipping quality is opposed to eating quality. Produce that ships well needs to be bred to have firm skins and firm flesh, and often needs to be picked unripe in order to retain that firmness and/or not to be overripe when it reaches the consumer.

There are exceptions. Some varieties of apples improve in cold storage and if properly stored and handled can be held quite a while and shipped a long way. Some varieties of winter squash improve in storage (though in this case the storage needs to start warm and then become only moderately cool), and winter squash normally has hard rinds. There are other things for which shipping quality doesn't essentially contradict eating quality. Local varieties of produce may still be better because they might have been selected for eating quality even when that doesn't produce the highest yield; but that's likely to depend on the particular farm.

I often wonder what the tropical produce that I can only get as shipped really ought to taste like. Probably, even for things that I think taste pretty good, I'm only getting a thin shadow of what they might be if I could get them where they grow.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:27 PM
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Concord grapes. I always keep an eye out for them in the fall.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:36 PM
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Rhubarb
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:42 PM
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Good tomatoes and stone fruit are only available in the summer, like strawberries. Pomegranates used to only be available on the fall, but I've seen them recently. Maybe from Chile? Peas (not sugar snaps or snow peas, but real peas in the pod, that you have to open) are only available briefly in the spring. Fresh cranberries are only available in the fall. Most of the interesting varieties of apples are only available in the fall, too. Pumpkins are only sold in the fall. They would keep, but i think there's no demand after Thanksgiving, so no one stores them. Asparagus is much more available in season, although maybe you can get it off-season these days.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:27 PM
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I live in a major metropolitan area. Like, the biggest or second biggest. You cannot find stone fruit, strawberries, most berries, watermelon or cherries in winter. You can find inferior ones in the fall and spring but not in February.

Also no quenepas, tamarindos or fresh figs outside of summer.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:30 PM
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Sweet Cherries available mid June to early August and they're gone.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:30 PM
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Corn is seasonal.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Fiddlehead ferns and ramps
Fiddleheads grow where I live, but not ramps, and I've never seen either in a store. Are they difficult to transport? In the past, I grew the wonderful Brandywine tomatoes, but you'll never even see those in a farmer's market because they don't even stand up to transporting into the house with the skins intact. But they taste so good.

Some breeds of apples are also easier to find in the fall, and Honey Crisp is the best example of this. Persimmons are also hard to find, except in the late fall, and are unpopular because most people don't know that by the time they're fully ripe and really do taste good, they start to get spots on them and people tend to think they're spoiled.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 07-07-2019 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:40 PM
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Blueberries are available year-round, but the off-season ones are barely worth eating.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:51 PM
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Ojai Pixie Tangerines "...are a late-season variety, ripening in March and April...."

http://www.ojaipixies.com/about-pixie-tangerines/


So awesome when available, it's a heartbreak when the short season ends.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:10 PM
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In the past, I grew the wonderful Brandywine tomatoes, but you'll never even see those in a farmer's market because they don't even stand up to transporting into the house with the skins intact. But they taste so good.
I've brought Brandywines (Quisenberry strain / Pink Brandywine) to farmers' market; and also Mrs. Horst's Oxheart, which IMO is just as good. They do need very careful handling, and often have small cracks (I eat the ones with large cracks); and I have to recheck at market and make sure there's nothing I need to pull back off the stand. But it is possible. I've seen others do it, too.

I've had customers take one look and walk away snickering. And I've had customers crowd into the stand to get them; as well as ask for them weeks before they're ready. It's going to be a late year this year.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:21 PM
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No one seems to have mentioned pumpkin yet.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:32 PM
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No one seems to have mentioned pumpkin yet.
That's because no one misses them when they are gone. Even while they are around, there is a spice named after them but it doesn't taste anything like pumpkins.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:23 PM
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Kumquats are seasonal, sadly. Nov-Feb, usually.

As are pomegranates, Sept-Feb in the north, Mar-May in the southern hemi.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:30 PM
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No one seems to have mentioned pumpkin yet.
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... Pumpkins are only sold in the fall. They would keep, but i think there's no demand after Thanksgiving, so no one stores them...
I feel unloved.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:46 PM
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Fiddleheads grow where I live, but not ramps, and I've never seen either in a store. Are they difficult to transport?
Fiddleheads are in some of the stores around Boston, but more common in NH and ME when in season. I doubt they're in much demand except in a few areas of the country to bother with shipping them around. They're a specialty item, for sure.

Ramps are much more rare. They are only in specialty shops and I don't think they travel well. The supply is very limited so it's hard to imagine them in a major supermarket in any volume.
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Old 07-07-2019, 09:28 PM
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There is this company that grows cotton candy grapes (fucking amazing) and they are only available for one month (aug-sept) each year.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:25 PM
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I see stone fruits, asparagus, apples, citrus, and other "seasonal" items in my local supermarket year round. In the off-season they are from the southern hemisphere, quite expensive, and not very good. There are always apples and grapes.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:31 PM
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Pumpkins are weird -- or rather the market for them is weird. You can sell them right up through October 31st. On November 1st you may as well plow them back into the field.

What is weird about this is that it doesn't only apply to jack-o-lantern pumpkins, for which it makes sense; most of them are too tasteless, watery, and/or stringy to bother eating. It also applies to pie pumpkins. You'd think there'd be another surge of people buying those right before Thanksgiving; but there generally isn't. I do usually keep stubbornly trying to sell them, if I'm doing winter markets; and once in a while somebody buys one or two; but mostly they don't.

(This is, I realize, a very USA centric post.)
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:03 AM
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What is weird about this is that it doesn't only apply to jack-o-lantern pumpkins, for which it makes sense; most of them are too tasteless, watery, and/or stringy to bother eating. It also applies to pie pumpkins. You'd think there'd be another surge of people buying those right before Thanksgiving; but there generally isn't. I do usually keep stubbornly trying to sell them, if I'm doing winter markets
Speaking as somebody who prefers pie pumpkins even for making jack-o-lanterns with, thank you! I think canned pumpkin is boring and cutting up a pumpkin for decorative purposes only to let it rot is wasteful. Also I think there's nothing to beat fresh-roasted pumpkin seeds.

The way to do jack-o-lanterns right is to get a good pie pumpkin, carefully extract and wash the seeds, and carve and display your jack-o-lantern as preferred, saving any sizable chunks of flesh. As soon as trick-or-treating is over, bring Jack back into the kitchen, scrape off any candle wax or scorch marks from inside him, split his head in two from ear to ear, put the halves convex side up on a baking pan, and roast him till his smiling face has gradually slumped into a soft mass. Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

You can roast the seeds at the same time. When the pumpkin's cool, scrape out all the flesh, puree it well, and freeze for pumpkin pie/bread/cheesecake that's much tastier than anything you'll make with a can of One-Pie.
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:09 AM
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Lychees and longans were the first fruits to come to mind. I don't think I've ever seen them in the winter.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:32 AM
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Definitely shell peas.

I've only ever seen russet apples in the fall.

Hatch green chiles are seasonal.

Prickly pear fruit is seasonal as well.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:07 AM
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Cherries and good strawberries. By "good" strawberries I'm specifically exclusing those miserable Driscoll California ones that look great but taste like they were carved out of balsa wood.
In my experience, all American fruits and vegetables taste like they were carved out of balsa wood.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:18 AM
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I see a lot of people are citing the idea that only 'good' examples of *name a fruit* are available at certain times of year - well, duh, that's what seasonality is about. If I read the OP correctly, they're asking what just isn't available at all off-season.

I know the question was about US supermarkets, but the British supermarket offering is similar - the vast majority of stuff is available all year round, even if it's rubbish, flown in from Brazil, South Africa and wherever. So whilst we know that strawberries are only really good May-July, we can still get them in January.

Anyway, I used to do a lot of branding/ad work for a major supermarket, so have a pretty clear idea of what is just not available out of season, mainly because I needed to shoot fruit six months ahead of the season. And it's basically fresh cranberries and chestnuts. Cherries can be iffy to find too. Pretty much everything else is freely available, even if it tastes like cardboard.

Oh, jersey royal potatoes. But I guess most people here won't know what they are (food of gods).
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:34 AM
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I live in a major metropolitan area. Like, the biggest or second biggest. You cannot find stone fruit, strawberries, most berries, watermelon or cherries in winter.
Really, it's all varieties of melons that are only available in summer as fresh fruit, and they're not really good until the second half of June.

For example you can get pre-cut melon containers in January, but not the actual watermelons, cantaloupes or honeydews themselves.

Certain varieties of citrus seem to be seasonal as well- stuff like Meyer lemons, some types of grapefruit, etc... are only available in the winter (when citrus ripens). I mean, I suppose I could go hunt down Meyer lemons at the local gourmet store in July, but they're not available at the local mega-marts except in November through about March (if that long).
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:05 AM
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I've never seen Blood Oranges available off-season.
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:33 PM
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Mineola tangelos seem hit & miss, and not linked to any "season" as such. Like a sine wave: For a couple or 3 months they're all around, then a major dearth of them for a couple of months, then a couple of months of plentiful supply, then a couple of months.......

My favorite orange of them all. Sweet, juicy, very easy to peel. Never knew how good Long Island was for growing oranges.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:24 PM
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Ojai Pixie Tangerines "...are a late-season variety, ripening in March and April...."

http://www.ojaipixies.com/about-pixie-tangerines/


So awesome when available, it's a heartbreak when the short season ends.
You beat me to it! They are absolutely delicious. There's a restaurant called Suzanne's in Ojai that makes a Pixie Cosmo. Yummy with their crab salad on a hot summer day sitting on the patio.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:48 PM
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Really, it's all varieties of melons that are only available in summer as fresh fruit, and they're not really good until the second half of June.

For example you can get pre-cut melon containers in January, but not the actual watermelons, cantaloupes or honeydews themselves.

Certain varieties of citrus seem to be seasonal as well- stuff like Meyer lemons, some types of grapefruit, etc... are only available in the winter (when citrus ripens). I mean, I suppose I could go hunt down Meyer lemons at the local gourmet store in July, but they're not available at the local mega-marts except in November through about March (if that long).
In Hawaii, I see whole cantaloupes and honeydew melons year round. I think those mini Thai watermelons are year round too. I suspect it's because these are always imported, never local so we don't really get the "good stuff" anyway.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:47 AM
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If something is out of season in America, it will be back in season in Chile before too long and--I'm not going to guess a number, but it's probably more than 30%--a lot of our produce comes from Chile.
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:14 AM
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Speaking as somebody who prefers pie pumpkins even for making jack-o-lanterns with, thank you! I think canned pumpkin is boring and cutting up a pumpkin for decorative purposes only to let it rot is wasteful. Also I think there's nothing to beat fresh-roasted pumpkin seeds...
The seeds from Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are usually fine. I always separate them and roast them as part of the Jack-o-lantern event. They rarely last the week.

(I don't care for pumpkin flesh enough to bother cooking my own. I suppose it's possible I've just never had good pumpkin. And I do like butternut and acorn squash. But I'm content to carve a large, flavorless decoration and toss it in the compost heap when it starts to rot.)
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:43 AM
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There are a few varieties of pumpkin that have hull-less seeds; much easier to eat.

Some of those varieties -- not all -- also have good pie-pumpkin flesh.

What's in the supermarkets is IME generally only jack o lantern types; but you could try farmers' markets.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:29 AM
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Concord grapes. I always keep an eye out for them in the fall.
this. I always grab a container when I see them at the store.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:16 AM
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I love reading these types of threads. Interesting to hear about different versions of the fruits you know, or even fruits/vegies you've never had before.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:46 PM
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A lot of these are available all year, though you might have to visit more than one store to find, say, a watermelon for New Years Day. Plums, strawberries, peaches, zucchini (especially).

For pumpkin, check your Korean supermarket.

I only see Brussels sprouts on the stalk during November-December-ish.
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:40 AM
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There are a few varieties of pumpkin that have hull-less seeds; much easier to eat.

Some of those varieties -- not all -- also have good pie-pumpkin flesh.

What's in the supermarkets is IME generally only jack o lantern types; but you could try farmers' markets.
The Amish store near where I used to live in Wisconsin sold pie pumpkins.
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:22 AM
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In my experience, all American fruits and vegetables taste like they were carved out of balsa wood.
Oddly, that's how I felt about the fruits and vegetables at my local makolet when I lived in your part of the world.
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Old 07-11-2019, 10:02 AM
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Rhubarb
My cousin in Nebraska brings me a huge lot of rhubarb each year and I work it into pies for the cafe where I work. It is mostly older folks that buy them, and they are forlorn when the pies get sold out.

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Concord grapes. I always keep an eye out for them in the fall.
I almost never find them for sale around here. I am so sad, as I have a pie recipe for them that came from my great grandmother. I have made it and it is simply heaven on earth.

Gooseberries are definitely seasonal, and mulberries are not even sold, but I have a big tree in a lot north of my house that I pick from each year.
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:48 PM
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There is this company that grows cotton candy grapes (fucking amazing) and they are only available for one month (aug-sept) each year.
Came to mention these. They fly off the shelves, but are just SO. DARN. GOOD.

There's a second Mexican grower now, so they're actually available right now as well. IIRC, the Mexican ones are available June-July, so you actually have a chance of finding them June to September now. I actually got a package in mid-May this year.

There's another grape whose name I always forget that's excellent as well. They're a seedless Concord variants that's super jammy and easy to eat. The company that sells them here puts an inexplicable picture of a dinosaur on the container.
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:59 PM
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I don't love the cotton candy grapes, but I do love muscats, and they are seasonal, too.
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Old 07-13-2019, 01:36 PM
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I don't love the cotton candy grapes, but I do love muscats, and they are seasonal, too.
I had the cotton candy grapes for the first time last week. Apparently, that’s all they had left at the Walmart my friends went to to pick up supplies for a cookout. They were ... interesting. I could see how people like them, but I wasn’t sure what to make of them. There was a base grape flavor, and then some unusual flavor over it, which I guess is the cotton candy part, but not really reminiscent of cotton candy to me. Just some sweet, candy overtone. Still, worth checking out for the different flavor, though not one I am likely to return to.
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