The first summer fruits show up this month: cherries and strawberries. Snagging up early season fruits in April can hit or miss on flavor, so I'll go over the best uses for each case.
Citrus is winding down, but if you don't want to let go yet, I have options to use the last of the season bounty, as well as recipes for preserving for later use.
See also: cooking with vegetables in April
Strawberries: first of the season
Strawberries are available year round, but have so much more flavor when they are in season. April is peak season for strawberries from Southern California (they actually start harvesting several months earlier but the flavor is mediocre from my experience). The rest of the US harvests strawberries starting mid April, or not until late May for cooler Midwest states.
Some recipes need the best tasting strawberries, and there's no way to get around that. These recipes use fresh strawberries without cooking or soaking them in sugar or alcohol.
But most recipes can turn a bland strawberry into something quite tasty. When strawberries are cooked down into a concentrate, soaked in something flavorful, or mixed with cream and other flavors, the results are great.
More recipes: The strawberry recipe collection has over 90 recipes including entire sections dedicated to strawberry shortcake, combinations with chocolate, and pairing with floral flavors.
Cherries: first of the season
Cherry season starts in April and gets into full swing in May and June. If cherries aren't grown near you, the good news is they maintain their quality when shipped (unlike strawberries, which are picked early, to ship while they are hard, sacrificing flavor).
Spring cherry recipes bring along flavors of fresh herbs, citrus, and cheese. (In summer cherries pair well with peaches, blueberries, and corn.)
April is the beginning of cherry season and your chances of finding them juicy and ripe are lower than in summer. If you find really flavorful strawberries, make any dessert you want! Otherwise, look for recipes with added sugar or cream (which enhances some of the sweet flavors).
Note that if the center of your cherries aren't dark red, pie filling and sauces will need food coloring or they will look slightly brown (which is ok, too).
More recipes: Look through 80+ cherry recipes, including fun twists on cherry pies, black forest variations, as well as salads and savory options.
Unlike most fruit, kiwi continue to ripen after they are harvested (similar to bananas). Kiwi will get softer, sweeter, and more aromatic as they continue to ripen off the vine.
Kiwi are firmer when picked before fully ripening, which means they are durable enough to stand up to shipping long distances. This means when the US kiwi season is over in a few months, we can still get kiwi from New Zealand at a similar quality (their season is opposite of the US).
More recipes: 25+ kiwi recipes from breakfast to dinner, and happy hour.
Citrus fruit - season ends soon
Lemons and limes are available year-round at high quality, but other citrus come and go with the seasons. April is the last chance for kumquats, blood oranges and mandarins. Grapefruit are also available this month and into summer.
Salads & appetizers
Look forward to spring with some bright, citrus-y salads and appetizers. They would be especially good if you have warm enough weather to fire up the grill.
Citrus + meat
More citrus recipes:
Yep, rhubarb is a vegetable. However it's treated more like a fruit for culinary purposes, so I've included it here. It's tart flavor balances out sweet desserts as well as adding pizazz to dinner recipes.
More recipes: Over 50 recipes in this year's rhubarb collection.
Spring cocktails & drinks
Spring brings outdoor weekend gatherings. Try some of these recipes for a seasonal drink.
With the citrus season ending, now is your last chance for preserving them. That could mean canning for long-term storage or keeping it simpler with refrigerator or freezer jam.