Not sure what's in season? Here's how to find the best

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Search by date or by produce item, our guide will show you how to get the best the season offers

By now you’ve heard it so often it’s become a cliché – to cook best, you must cook seasonally. But how do you really know what’s in season? When you go to the supermarket, they seem to have the same fruits and vegetables all through the year.

We’re here to help. Launching this morning is the Los Angeles Times' Southern California Seasonal Produce Guide, a really cool tool that will keep you up to date with what's at its best no matter what time of year.

Not only will you learn which fruits and vegetables you should be looking for, you’ll also find out how to choose the best, how to take care of them once you’ve bought them, simple preparation tips and a whole bunch of recipes from among the nearly 5,000 in our California Cookbook.

We’ve covered more than 60 produce items and it’s free with registration.

For example, since it’s early September, you should be looking at apples, Asian pears, corn, cucumbers and eggplants. If you’re not sure how to choose an eggplant, you click on the picture in the guide and get tips on what to look for (firm to the touch, green leaves), how to store it once you get home (room temperature for a day or two, then refrigerate, but not too long), one simple way to prepare it (slice, brush with garlic oil and grill), and a link that takes you to 89 eggplant recipes, most of them with full-color art (and, of course, all of them Test Kitchen-perfected).

To top it off, we’re also including an updated version of our farmers market map, spotlighting the more than 250 Southern California markets, searchable by day of the week.

This is a feature you can help build. We’ve included a few comments on some of our favorite markets, but you can comment as well -- we want to know what you think about the markets that you go to.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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