From Midwest Bland to California Fruit Flavor

organic strawberries on display at an outdoor farmers market

Organic strawberries at the Cinco de Mayo farmers market at Gainey Vineyard in Santa Ynez Valley

When I first moved to the Central Coast from Ohio, I was thrilled to see the bounty of strawberries on offer at the San Luis Obispo farmers market. Back east, the strawberry season lasts a quick three weeks, if you’re lucky. After buying loads of berries, I brought them home and prepped them for freezer storage so I could enjoy them beyond the limits of what I assumed was a short season, just like home. With strawberries packed away, imagine my surprise at seeing berries on offer for months. “How long is your season here?” Just another perk of living in this special corner of California: fresh strawberries available all summer and a range of other fruits year round, from apples and stone fruits to figs and citrus.

Winter brings citrus to neighborhood trees and farmers market displays across the Central Coast. With careful storage, local apples make it through the winter and spring before the summer and fall crop comes on. I don’t expect to get a basket of delicious cherries in January at the farmers market because that’s not cherry season. We have to wait until May for a delicious basket of bing cherries. Fruit has seasons and you can’t always get every single option you might want at every month of the year.

Unlike in the midwest, farmers market shoppers in California’s Central Coast come to learn the seasons by the available fruit from month to month. California fruit enjoyed in California (as opposed to Ohio) is so much better than the tasteless, cosmetically-pretty fruit we ate in the Midwest when I was growing up—every month of the year, the same tasteless produce shipped in from around the country that had been picked unripe for bruise-less shipping and then gassed to create a ripe-looking color. Our local fresh fruits have so much more flavor, even at the beginning of the season before their sugars have fully shifted into high gear.

orange mandarin tree with bright green leaves and ripe fruit

December mandarins in SLO

Making yourself open to the fruit of the season and enjoying what’s ripe: this midwesterner has happily adapted to enjoying the abundance of fruit and veg available at our year-round Central Coast markets.

Central Coast Farmers Markets


You may also like...