How to Eat More Fruits in Winter

Did you know the cold months are the best time to find fresh oranges and other fruits? Learn how to take advantage of the winter season’s natural bounty

It’s surprisingly easy to find delicious, nutritious fruits in the colder months. Here are some suggestions.

Citrus

While many varieties are available year-round, citrus season peaks in winter. Some varieties, like Cara Cara, naval, cumquats, Mandarin, and pomelo, are rarely available outside the winter months. Known for their high vitamin C content—one large orange provides more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value—citrus fruits are also rich in several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, and riboflavin, as well as fiber and a variety of phytochemicals.

Citrus does not continue to ripen once picked. A thin, smooth, uniformly textured peel without discoloration, soft spots, or signs of mold is a more reliable indicator of ripeness than color. For best quality, store citrus at room temperature for about a week or refrigerate up to eight weeks.

Try This

Peel a naval orange, tangerine, or small, snack-sized clementine for a sweet, fiber-full, satisfying snack, perfect for on-the-go; use citrus juice as the acid in dressings, salsas, dips, and sauces, or squeeze it anywhere you want a burst of bright flavor, like onto roasted vegetables, fish, and poultry; add citrus zest to any dish or baked good for added flavor and as garnish; use a squirt of lime juice instead of salt for great taste without the sodium.

Apples

Many varieties of apples are specifically bred to grow and ripen at different times of year, including winter. One large apple provides five grams of dietary fiber, which is 20 percent of the recommended Daily Value. They are also a good source of vitamin C and a diverse array of phytochemicals. Discarding the skin removes much of that fiber and phytochemicals, as well as other nutrients, so keep those peels on!

Choose whole apples that are firm (not too soft or spongy) and free of bruises or knicks. Store in a cool place, such as a cellar, garage, or refrigerator, for longer freshness. You can refrigerate them in a plastic or paper bag in the crisper drawer. Keep apples away from other fruits and vegetables to avoid premature ripening and absorption of odors from strong-smelling foods, like onions.

Try This

Sample different varieties of apples. There are more than 2,500 varieties grown in the U.S., many of which are available in local supermarkets. You may discover new favorites to eat whole, sliced, dipped in nut butter, paired with cheese, baked, added to green salads, diced into tuna salad, layered on sandwiches, or made into apple sauce or apple chips.

Frozen Fruits

Wonderful as fresh fruits are, frozen are equally nutritious, and they’re available year-round. They can be conveniently stored for long periods of time, they save time because the washing, peeling, and chopping are done, and there is no waste, making tasty dishes that much easier.

Before buying frozen fruit, read the label. Ideally, the only ingredient is the fruit itself. Avoid those with added sugars or preservatives. Check frozen fruit bags for firmness, which indicates no thawing has occurred.

Canned or jarred fruits are also an option, but watch out for added sugars. Choose fruits canned in juice, avoid those canned in syrup, and consider draining the liquid before eating.

Dried fruits are convenient sweet treats, but there is some nutrient loss during the drying process. Also, it’s easy to over-indulge (think about how many grapes that little box of raisins used to be!).

Try This

Enjoy frozen fruit in smoothies, hot or cold cereals, parfaits, or baked goods. Dried fruit can be tossed into a green salad or trail mix.

This article originally appeared in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, published each month by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Find out how to get expert guidance on healthy cooking, eating, and living.

Back to Top