In December my family made a huge road trip from northeast Oregon, to the southern Oregon coast, down the California coast and back home. We saw a lot of new country and drove the entire range of the redwoods from southwestern Oregon to Big Sur, California. It was a great physical and mental break from the farm, and luckily we have family and friends who can take care of our animals and monitor our hoop houses while we’re gone.
With my husband driving and my daughter and the dog in the back, I held down my typical role reading the map aloud and Googling anything that interested us (or just me.) I daydreamed about living in a Mediterranean climate (it just looks so easy!) I did a lot of not thinking about farming until we drove through the Salinas River Valley. There was a lot of active agriculture a week before Christmas, and I thought, “what is truly in season in the US in the winter?”
I looked around for hints. Through Salinas Valley and later the San Joaquin Valley we saw miles of hoop houses and dormant strawberry patches. We drove through the “garlic capital of the world” (Gilroy, CA) and the “artichoke capital of the world” (Castroville, CA) and past fields of cabbages as far as the eye could see and the nose could smell.
“Artichokes Growing 1” by Greg Woodhouse Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
After our road trip through California agriculture I decided to compile a short list USA-grown produce that is in season now.
It’s Winter: What’s In Season?
Central California coast artichokes are perennial. They are managed for winter, spring, and summer harvest. The peak harvest is March through May, but harvest is happening now (January.)
Everyone knows artichokes are best eaten with garlic butter (or mayo), but here’s a recipe for grilling them if you want to try something new.
Broccoli is harvested year round on the California coast, but the peak season is December through mid-March. Also grown in Texas. I love a classic broccoli salad with raisins or cranberries.
- Brussels Sprouts
Warmer US climates are harvesting Brussels sprouts in the winter. Most people just add bacon, but I like them with cranberries too. Here’s a link to 30 new recipes for Brussels sprouts.
Cabbage is grown and harvested year round in California thanks to its varied climates. Also harvested in winter in Texas. Here’s a cabbage salad recipe that also involves another in-season crop—grapefruit.
Warmer US climates like Texas are harvesting cauliflower in the winter. Cauliflower curry!
Warmer US climates like California & Texas are harvesting celery in the winter.
- Grapefruit (Texas & Florida)
Peak harvest is December through February. California grapefruit is harvested in the fall. Fun fact: grapefruit have a very long gestation period. They will hang on the tree for 14 to 15 months before reaching maturity!
- Oranges (Florida & California)
Navel oranges peak December through May. Tangelos and tangerines peak October through March.
- Storage crops
Many crops are harvested in the fall and sold throughout the winter and spring. Varieties are chosen based on their ability to store. Some varieties of pears don’t even ripen properly without storage. Don’t forget to eat garlic, potatoes, winter squash, apples, and pears.
Due to our huge country’s varied climates, you can enjoy carrots, greens, and lemons year round from US producers.
You also have the beginning of California avocado season and Hawaiian papaya season starting in March.
Hope this is interesting and helpful!
Your grateful farmer,