What exactly is it that makes a great meal? Sure, there’s a ton to be said for selecting the exact right cut of meat for your entree. Pairing the appetizers with the perfect wine is also always a good choice, as is planning out the perfect palate-cleanser and dessert. At the end of the day, though, a great meal is going to come down to the freshness of the ingredients used in in each component. Rarely is this as true as it is when it comes to produce, and few places offer as comprehensive a produce market as the Centennial State. As students of Colorado culinary schools likely already know, Colorado’s volatile climate and beautiful landscape make for some of the most abundant produce harvests in the country. If you’re looking to determine which vegetables to use for your next meal, take a look at this guide to Colorado produce by season:
Colorado’s spring harvest is a truly unprecedented opportunity for individuals looking to add the freshest vegetables to their culinary endeavors. Between the beginning of March and the end of May, Colorado gardens and farms churn out some of the finest produce in the country. According to Colorado Local First, leeks, mushrooms and onions come into season in March, making that time of year perfect for crafting rich stews and thick soups. April and May, in turn, deliver earthy, vitamin- and nutrient-rich produce such as spinach, asparagus, fava beans, green garlic, scallions, radishes and rhubarb. For those looking for a particularly rare treat, morels come into season during this time of year, but can usually only be found for a select few weeks in the spring.
The warmest season of the year is also perhaps the richest in terms of produce and fruit in Colorado. The warm weather brings out an incredible range of produce, priming chefs across the state to produce some of the most interesting and decadent salads of the year. Among other produce available in the summer are onions, potatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, artichoke, basil and zucchini. What makes summer special, though, is that the proximity to autumn also means that sweeter fruits also ripen for harvest near the end of the season. According to Mile High Biz, fruits such as apples, melons, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries all become available in the summer, paving the way for chefs to craft tarts, cakes and sorbets.
There may be no better season for food regardless of where you are, as autumn brings with it the final major harvest of the year. Paired with the Thanksgiving holiday, the produce that comes to harvest in this season is primed for an incredible series of meals. Apples, apricots, pumpkins, chard, collard greens, corn, fennel, eggplant, kale, watermelons and multiple kinds of squash all are picked, cleaned and packaged for sale in between the months of September and November.
While many people tend to think of winter as a desolate season in terms of produce, this isn’t the case. Even though Colorado faces harsh winter temperatures and snowfall during the early months of the year, the state still churns out great amounts of produce. For example, beets, leeks, onions and turnips all ripen and are harvested during the winter months of the year. While these produce products are extremely versatile in their cooking applications, it’s also worth noting that many of the products from the earlier seasons can be preserved and stored to allow for more flavorful cooking in the winter.