Seasonal foods are those foods that appear or are available at a certain time or season of the year. The season is the time when that food would be ripe and ready for harvest. Depending on the type of food, some may be available for just a few weeks while some others could be available for a few more months after harvest. Although this largely depends on how well the food is stored.
In Nigeria, some of the foods we eat are seasonal, which means they are available or more common during a particular season or month in a year. When they are no longer available, we say the food is “out of season”. One way you can tell that food is in season is that it becomes cheaper and more available. In-season foods are also fresher, tastes better, and have higher nutritional value.
In today’s article, we would be looking at some examples of seasonal foods we have in Nigeria.
Yam is one food that is widely eaten in Nigeria. It can be enjoyed in different ways and there are so many recipes that involve yam that you can always try out. Yams become more available, and cheaper, around August and September as this is when they get harvested. In the period before August and September, yams tend to be more expensive, scarce and not as tasty as you will find them in the latter part of the year. In some parts of the country, like the South East, there are festivals held to celebrate the harvest of new yams.
Plantain is another food that is enjoyed with the season. Plantain season begins around September and could last till December or even after. Although these days, plantain tends to be available for most of the year due to people planting it at different months of the year to make it available for harvesting at different times of the year.
Although it takes about three to four months to grow and become ripe for harvesting, corn, also known as maize, is one food you do not see every time. When it is in season, which begins around May/June, it is very common to see people boiling or roasting corn on the street. Corn can be enjoyed with the African pear, which is always in season around the same time as corn.
Who does not love sweet potatoes? Besides their sweet taste, sweet potatoes are also very nutritious as they are packed with loads of nutrients and even dietary fibre. The season of sweet potatoes is around August to November. Before then, it could be quite expensive and very scarce to find, and the ones you see would not be fresh.
Almost all fruits in Nigeria are seasonal. This happens because the trees bloom at a certain point of the year. Some common seasonal fruits in Nigeria include:
- Garden eggs
- African velvet tamarind (icheku)
- Pepper fruit
- Monkey kola
- African Pear (Ube)
- African star apple (agbalumo or udala).
When these fruits are in season, you can tell because they would be available almost everywhere you turn. You will also be able to buy a lot for less.
Leafy Green Vegetables
A lot of Nigerian green leafy vegetables are seasonal. They are also very healthy and nutritious. Some common seasonal leafy green vegetables in Nigeria are oha leaves, spinach, scent leaves, and cabbages. They are usually available in the months of August and September.
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