Fruits are plentiful throughout the spring, summer, and fall, but what about winter? You may be surprised to discover that there are several fruits that grow in winter season. We’ve put together a list of the fruits that come to full ripeness in wintertime, so you can satiate your fruity sweet tooth while the wind whistles outside.
It probably doesn’t surprise you that the berries that grace many people’s holiday tables just happen to ripen fully around Christmastime. In fact, they become sweeter and more tender after they’ve been exposed to a frost or three.
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2. Honeycrisp Apples
Some of the juiciest, most delicious apples in the world just happen to come to perfect ripeness in wintertime. Honeycrisp apples were cultivated in Minnesota, which explains why they’re so cold hardy. They’re at their crunchiest, sweetest best in late November, and depending on where they’re grown, can get even more awesome right through into late December.
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Although few fruits will ripen in zone 3 winters, you’ll likely still find cherries on trees in wintertime if you’re in zones 5 and up. In fact, many cherry tree varieties thrive best in cold climates, and require a couple of months of severe cold to produce sweeter fruit the following season.
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Although they might seem quite tender, Bosc and D’Anjou pears don’t fully ripen until the winter in many locales. Whether you’re a gardener shopping for fruit trees, or you’re just at the supermarket looking for items for a winter fruit platter, make sure that pears are on your list.
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Most people think of kiwis as tropical fruits, but these fuzzy babies can be remarkably hardy. In fact, the Actinidia kolomikta variety can withstand winter temperatures down to -40! If you’re in a colder climate and you’re really lucky, you may still be able to harvest these fruits well into December.
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These fascinating orange fruits grow wild as well as in cultivated gardens, and are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants. If you’re out foraging in most parts of the USA, you may still find them growing right through to January or February, as long as you’re in hardiness zones 4 and up.
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These fruits only grow in certain regions, but where they do thrive, they come to full ripeness in the depth of winter. That’s why they’re so treasured on winter holiday tables, and feature so heavily in winter salads. Try tossing some of the seeds with winter greens like endives, kale, and spinach, along with some roasted beets, sliced pears, toasted almonds, and a citrus vinaigrette.
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Remember how pumpkins are fruits? Well, these generally don’t ripen completely until at least Halloween rolls around. If you’re in a slightly milder climate, like in the midwest, then you can grow pumpkins right through the winter months. That means you can have fresh pumpkin pie in January if the whim strikes you.
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9. Winter Squashes
Hardy squashes like acorn and butternut fall into the same category as their pump-kin (sorry, sorry…) above. These hard-skinned fruits don’t succumb easily to cold temperatures, and can even withstand some mild snowfalls. They probably won’t thrive in three feet of snow, but should do fine if you’re in zone 5 or above.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to live in a hot area like Florida or California, you can go ahead and grow clementines. These are ripe and juicy at the height of winter, which makes them perfect for cool weather indulgences. Try dipping them in chocolate if you really want to get fancy, or juice them for a smoothie base.
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Just like their smaller citrus cousins mentioned above, grapefruits often produce heavily during the winter months. Not in Colorado or Wyoming, of course. But if you’re in Texas or another hot climate, go right ahead and enjoy!
You may not have ever considered papayas to be winter fruits, but they are if you live in Hawaii! In fact, mid winter is when these luscious fruits come into full ripeness. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to live in Hawaii, you’ll be able to enjoy a startling amount of amazing winter produce that those of us in colder zones can only dream about. So we’ll live vicariously through you and whine about it.
Remember that when it comes to fruits that grow in winter season, a lot depends on your local hardiness zone. Fruit trees and bushes that thrive in Louisiana won’t necessarily do well in Alaska or Alberta. Similarly, fruits that thrive in Indonesia in winter might not be available in the USA.
Aim for local fruits that do best where you’re located, and you’ll get fresh, delicious produce that’s in season.