Florida has acres upon acres upon acres (three-quarters of a million acres!) of citrus groves that produce orange, grapefruits, and limes year-round. The Sunshine State also has over 8,000 miles of coastline from which Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico seafood is harvested. See what's in season, where to get it, and learn about Florida specialties — from Miami up to Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville — below. Find more Florida gems or tell us all about your favorite thing about eating locally in Florida.
What's In Season In Florida?
Florida's semi-tropical climate means a year-round growing season and plenty of tropical fruits. Mangos, guava, and passion fruit are all grown in the state. Many of the common fruits and vegetables grown in Northern states have flip-flopped seasons, with harvests lasting into winter and early spring. Winter strawberries come from Florida, as do winter green beans and eggplants. Floridians need to adjust their "seasonal cooking" accordingly. This Guide to Florida Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables should help.
Florida Farmers Markets
Florida Specialties: Oranges and Grapefruit
Grapefruit are also grown mainly for juice in Florida. But sweeter, eating varieties like white grapefruit and red grapefruit are grown for produce markets.
Florida Specialties: Limes
Florida Specialties: Mangos
Florida Specialties: Stone Crab
Florida Specialties: Tupelo Honey
Florida Specialties: Hearts of PalmLocals may call it "swamp cabbage," but I think we can all agree that "hearts of palm" sounds slightly more appetizing! Hearts of palm come from the terminal bud (or heart) of the sabal palm, which just happens to be the state tree of Florida. With these buds, the tree can't replace its old leaves and will die. When swamp cabbage got renamed and marketed as something fancy, its new-found popularity almost ruined it. The trees are now largely protected in Florida, and hearts of palm on the market mainly comes from Central and South America.
Florida Food Events: FruitsFlorida is a fun state. Is it the sun? All the tourists looking for a good time? A local, tropical joie de vivre? A combination, perhaps? In any case, the state is rife with festivals of all sorts. Some of them even focus on food:
- International Mango Festival, held every July in Miami, this weekend festival has the standard tastings and chef demos, but also pruning workshops and seminars on diseases and pests for those lucky enough to have their own mango trees.
- A Kumquat Festival is held every winter in Dade City to celebrate this sour-sweet tiny citrus fruit.
- Plant City hosts the annual Florida Strawberry Festival in February because the state is, after all, the home of winter strawberries.
Florida Food Events: SeafoodOver 8,000 miles of coastline - and plenty of inland bodie sof water too, make fish and seafood a big part of local eating in Florida. It is richly celebrated in festival form:
- Key fishermen put on the Florida Keys Seafood Festival in Key West every winter and cook seafood fresh off the boats as crowds gather to eat at communal tables.
- In May Pensacola celebrates its Cajun influence with the Pensacola Crawfish Festival which lasts an entire weekend and involves lots and lots of crawfish boil.
- The South Beach Food & Wine Festival is more national than local, with the spotlight on celebrity chefs, but some local specialties make it into the stands too.