Recipe inspiration and tips for what’s in season in May. The May produce guide features strawberries, asparagus, beets, chives, eggs, greens, hakurei or salad turnips, and radishes.
Updated: May 4, 2023
Welcome to the May produce guide! Whether you’ve just signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and need inspiration or you’re a seasoned farmers’ market pro, this guide will help you get the most out of local produce and cook a lot of delicious food along the way.
Sign Up for a CSA!
Looking for a great CSA? If you’re in the Charlottesville area, I highly recommend Bellair Farm CSA. They’re good folks with a beautiful, welcoming farm, an abundance of produce, and the option to select what’s in your weekly or biweekly share. There are still a few shares available, so don’t delay! In NYC in the Northeast, check out Local Harvest.
At the Market
Many CSA shares in the Mid-Atlantic region are getting underway and farmers’ markets are hitting their stride. This week marked a key moment in the spring for me, with the little Wednesday afternoon market in our neighborhood park starting back up. I came home with a couple dozen eggs, two beautiful bunches of greens, and a tub of strawberries. May is a peak season for leafy greens – they’re tender and flavorful. Likewise, lettuce is at it’s peak right now.
Strawberries, hakurei or salad turnips, lettuces, radishes, spicy greens, and dark leafy greens are going strong in May. Late in the month, fresh herbs, beets, napa cabbage, and kohlrabi come into season. Late May is a good time to keep an eye out for berries and the first cherries.
Note: I have a bunch of food allergies, so spring eating can be particularly fraught for me. Rhubarb is totally in season in May, but it makes me break out in itchy hives, so you’ll have to go somewhere else for rhubarb love! I’m also severely allergic to peas and fava beans, so they won’t show up here, but definitely get your hands on them if you can!
In the Garden
In my ever-expanding backyard garden, I have thriving rows of arugula, lettuces, and collard greens. My radishes got a slow start this year and are still a few weeks out. This weekend, I’m planning to put all my tomato, cucumber, and pepper starts in the ground and direct sow zucchini and green beans.
What’s in Season in May: A Produce Guide
Strawberry season is well underway after a warm spring! Right now, there are a lot of smaller, early berries available at markets. As we head into June, the berries will get big and plump. I have more recipes on this blog dedicated to strawberries than any other ingredient, so keep an eye out for more strawberry recipes as the season progresses. For now, here are a few that highlight early strawberries.
To best store your berries, keep them loosely covered in plastic wrap on a paper towel-lined tray. Berries that have slumped or are on the edge of being overripe are ideal for cooking.
- Honey Vanilla Pots de Crème with Strawberries
- Strawberry Basil Hand Pies
- Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup
- Herby Strawberry Salad with Chèvre
- Strawberry Cornmeal Cake
- Ricotta Cake with Strawberries
For optimal flavor, eat your asparagus as soon as you’re able. Look for thinner, tender stalks, as larger ones can be tough and fibrous. If your asparagus has a tough exterior, peel the outer layer before cooking.
- Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Asparagus Pesto with Broiled Salmon and Fennel Slaw
- Asparagus and Polenta Bowls
- Warm Asparagus and Shrimp Salad
- Farro Risotto (Farrotto) with Ramps and Roasted Asparagus
At the farmers market, beets are mostly sold with their greens. When you get home, separate the greens and roots for best storage. The beet greens should be used right away. They’re very similar in texture and flavor to chard, though they do have a pinkish hue that can bleed onto to other foods. The beets themselves will keep for at least 5 days.
The easiest way to prepare beets is to scrub and steam them in the oven. They cook through completely and the peel comes right off, leaving you free to make pickles, soup, or marinate the beets in a flavorful vinaigrette.
- Vegan Beet Dip with Grilled Asparagus
- Roasted Beet Wedges with Beet Tzatziki
- Beet Soup with Beet Greens Pistou
- Marinated Beets
- Focaccia Sandwiches with Pickled Beets
Chives and Chive Blossoms
Chives are up and blooming! Chive blossoms can be hard to track down, but they’re very easy to grow on your own. Add chive blossoms to salads, vegetables, or wherever else you need any an onion-y kick. Preserve the flavor of chive blossoms with chive blossom vinegar. Keep the blossoms in a glass of water until you’re ready to use. Chives without blossoms will keep well sealed in a bag for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- Chive and Cheddar Quiche
- Grass-Fed Grilled Burgers with Quick-Pickled Shallots and Chive Blossoms
- Pesto Pasta with Shrimp
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Chive Crème Fraîche
In the garden and at the market, collard greens are abundant and tender right now. Look for beautiful, robust leaves. Once you get your collards home, try to use them within 3 days, though they’ll keep longer if you need a bit more time.
Sure, eggs are pretty much a year round thing and may not necessarily qualify as produce, but there’s no better time for delicious eggs than the spring. Right now, good local eggs from pastured hens have electric yellow, wonderfully creamy yolks, and are delicious alongside spring vegetables.
- Beet-Pickled Eggs
- Pimentón Aioli and Focaccia Sandwiches with Pickles and Eggs
- Fennel-Asparagus Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Steamed Eggs
- Slow-Cooked Scrambled Eggs
Hakurei Turnips and Radishes
Radishes are wonderful this time of year. Look for medium-sized radishes that look fresh and smooth. Young radishes are ideal for salads, garnishes, and eating with butter and sea salt. As they age, radishes and their greens get tough and spicy. Older, larger radishes are best roasted or blended into a soup.
Radish greens vary in texture and taste, but for the most part, they’re delicious braised or blanched. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly since they can be very sandy. This mac and cheese is one of my favorite way to enjoy radish greens.
- Green Salad with a Classic Vinaigrette
- Vegan Tortilla Soup with Radishes and Avocado
- Green Goddess Dip with Radishes
- Vegan Hakurei Turnip Pesto Flatbreads
- Pink Radish Soup with Crispy Fried Shallots
- Killed Lettuce Salad with Radishes and Bacon
- Roasted Radishes and Hakurei Turnips with Greens Pesto