Those of us who call Ontario home are frankly spoiled by the splendour of our harvest. Thanks to age-old agricultural methods and farmers’ endless adaptation to changing weather patterns, sustainable technologies and our tastes, year over year we are presented with an array of delicious local fruit.
The taste and qualities of fruit varieties grown around the world are complemented and made distinct by the unique terroir of Ontario’s growing regions. There is no better time of the year to visit farmer’s markets, fruit stands and Ontario grown displays in grocery aisles to get the freshest, most affordable locally grown fruit.
APPLES - year round (other than July)
Fibre and vitamin C
Ontario’s favourite apples are Red Delicious, Empire, and, at the top of the bushel, the beloved McIntosh. Apples have been grown and harvested since prehistoric times, and varieties of apple trees can be found in nearly every arable climate around the world.
Tip: Slice three apples and simmer slices in cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and and a teaspoon of butter until soft and fragrant. Serve over hot waffles with freshly whipped cream.
APRICOTS - July & August
Beta-carotene, Vitamin C and potassium
Yes, specialized varieties of these delicate fruits are grown in southern Ontario, coming into season in July or August.
Tip: Don’t eat the kernels (seeds) - the Vitamin B17 they contain makes them incredibly bitter, and they can be toxic.
CURRANTS - July & August
Vitamin C, fibre and iron
These tiny berries beloved by the Vikings come in red, black and white varieties and can be grown in most areas of Ontario.
Tip: Currants make a beautiful and interesting addition to a mid-to-late summer salad.
GOOSEBERRIES - July & August
Vitamin C, potassium and Vitamins B1, B2 and A
Delicious fresh or baked in a pie, gooseberry bushes can produce 8-10 pounds of fruit each season.
Tip: Try gooseberries with smoked fish for an exquisite salad.
GRAPES - August & September
Fibre, antioxidants and Vitamins C and K
The Concord and Niagara variety of grapes are actually native to Ontario!
Tip: Try Ontario grapes, apples, blue cheese, and walnuts for a quick, crisp and delicious salad.
MUSKMELON - August & September
Vitamins A and C, potassium and folacin
Commonly referred to as cantaloupes, the scaly, round variety we most commonly see in Ontario is actually a muskmelon. While true cantaloupes are a variety of muskmelon, they have a ribbed skin and are less flavourful.
Tip: Whip up a cantaloupe breakfast smoothie with milk, banana and chia seeds!
NECTARINES - August & September
Vitamins A and C, and potassium
Fantasia and Harblaze nectarines are the most popular varieties grown in Ontario.
Tip: Swap pineapple for nectarines to localize your next Upside-Down Cake!
PEARS - August to December
Fibre, vitamin C, potassium and folacin
Ontario produces a wide variety of pears. The top five locally grown pears are Bartlett, Clapp’s Favourite, Anjou, Bosc and Flemish Beauty.
Tip: Roast pears with butter, dry white wine and cinnamon, then serve with vanilla ice cream.
PEACHES - July to September
The stone at the centre of a peach houses the seed, and is also known as a drupe.
Tip: Grill peaches with your pork chops for a fast and delicious dinner.
PLUMS - July to October
Yellow plums, led by the Early Golden and Shiro plum are the most popular variety grown in Ontario.
Tip: Try roasting Ontario plums with ricotta and honey.
RASPBERRIES - July to October
Vitamins C and A and fibre
Raspberries are among the most delicate of fruits, and are actually considered a stone fruit, though their ‘stones’ appear as seed on the outside of the skin. Choose berries that are firm and dry, and keep an eye out for any mildew.