In the colorful tapestry of fruits and vegetables, yellow varieties bring a burst of sunshine to our plates. From the humble banana to the exotic yellow dragonfruit, each yellow treasure has its unique season, origin, fun facts, and delicious ways to enjoy it. Let's take a closer look at this radiant spectrum of produce and uncover the secrets behind their bright hue.
Why are some fruits and vegetables yellow?
Yellow fruits and vegetables owe their vibrant hue to the presence of natural pigments known as carotenoids, primarily carotenes and xanthophylls.
Carotenoids are responsible for the yellow, orange, and red colors found in various plants, and their coloration serves several purposes.
In the case of yellow fruits and vegetables, like bananas, yellow bell peppers, and yellow squash, these carotenoids act as antioxidants, helping to protect the plant from the damaging effects of sunlight and free radicals. Additionally, carotenoids play a crucial role in photosynthesis, capturing light energy and converting it into chemical energy, supporting the plant's growth and development.
So, while these yellow-hued foods delight our palates with their bright and inviting colors, they also represent a testament to nature's ingenuity in harnessing sunlight and defending against oxidative stress.
Top 17 Yellow Fruits and Vegetables
- Yellow bell peppers
- Yellow tomatoes
- Yellow squash
- Sweet corn
- Yellow wax beans
- Yellow watermelon
- Golden delicious apples
- Yellow plums
- Yellow zucchini
- Yellow cherries
- Yellow figs
- Yellow pattypan squash
- Yellow dragonfruit
- Yellow kiwifruit
Season: Bananas are available year-round, as they are harvested throughout the year in various tropical and subtropical regions, ensuring a consistent supply of this popular fruit.
Fun Facts: A bunch of bananas, known as a "hand," comprises 10 to 20 individual bananas, aptly referred to as "fingers." They are also botanically classified as berries! A third fun fact that can't be left out is that there were once thousands of banana varieties, but today, commercial cultivation has led to the dominance of a few, like the Cavendish banana. This shift was primarily driven by the need for uniformity and disease resistance.
Origin: The origin of bananas traces back to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. These tropical fruits are believed to have been cultivated for thousands of years, with the earliest evidence of banana cultivation dating back to around 5000 BCE in Papua New Guinea. Bananas then spread to other parts of Asia, including the Philippines and Malaysia, before eventually making their way to Africa, Europe, and the Americas through trade and exploration.
How to Eat/Prepare: Peel and enjoy as a quick and nutritious snack, blend into smoothies, or use in baking for natural sweetness. Try Healthy Banana Mini Muffins (Vegan and Oil Free) for a delicious snack.
Yellow Bell Peppers
Season: Yellow bell peppers are at their best during the summer months.
Fun Facts: They contain more vitamin C than oranges! They are also just one stage in the ripening process of a bell pepper. They start green and change colors as they mature, with yellow being one of the final stages before turning red.
Origin: Like their colorful bell pepper counterparts, Yellow bell peppers trace their origin back to Central and South America. They are believed to have been cultivated by indigenous peoples in these regions for thousands of years. Through centuries of cultivation and selective breeding, yellow bell peppers, which are a mature version of green bell peppers, emerged as a distinct variety.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice them for salads, stuff them with your favorite fillings, or sauté for a sweet and crunchy side dish. Try roasting them in Sheet Pan Oven Roasted Vegetables.
Season: Lemons are available year-round but are most abundant in the winter.
Fun Facts: Sailors historically used them to prevent scurvy due to their high vitamin C content. Lemon trees are evergreen and can produce fruit year-round in warm climates.
Origin: Lemons have a rich and ancient history that can be traced back to northeastern India, specifically in the region of Assam, Burma, and China. It's believed that lemons are a hybrid fruit, a cross between citron and sour orange. They were first introduced to the Mediterranean region by Arab traders around the 1st century AD, and they gradually spread to Europe and other parts of the world Check out Britannica to learn more.
How to Eat/Prepare: Use their juice and zest in cooking, baking, or refreshing lemonade. Add them to soups like Healthy Red Lentil Soup | Easy Vegan Recipe for a citrusy burst of flavor.
Season: Pineapples are in their prime from spring to early summer.
Fun Facts: They take 18-20 months to fully mature from a seed to a fruit! Once picked, pineapples do not continue to ripen like some other fruits. They are best when harvested at their peak ripeness. Pineapples don't grow on trees but on a plant near the ground.
Origin: Pineapples are native to South America, particularly in the region where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet. They were later spread to other parts of the world by European explorers. Explore more about pineapples on Britannica.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice into juicy chunks for a tropical snack, grill for a sweet and smoky twist, or use in fruit salads. They are always a classic topping for pizza.
Season: Yellow tomatoes are typically harvested in late summer.
Fun Facts: They are less acidic than their red counterparts. Many yellow tomatoes are heirloom varieties, which means they have been passed down through generations for their unique qualities and flavors. They come in various shades of yellow, ranging from pale lemon to deep golden hues.
Origin: Yellow tomatoes, like all tomatoes, originated in the Andes region of South America, with their cultivation dating back over 2,000 years. Indigenous peoples in areas that now include Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia began domesticating and selectively breeding these wild tomatoes, leading to the development of various tomato varieties, including the yellow ones. European explorers brought tomatoes, including yellow varieties, to Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, eventually leading to their global cultivation and popularity.
How to Eat/Prepare: Add to salads, make a vibrant tomato sauce, or enjoy them as a unique twist on classic vegan Caprese.
Season: Yellow squash is typically in season during the warm summer months, from late spring to early fall, when it's at its freshest and most abundant.
Fun Facts: Yellow squash is relatively easy to grow in home gardens. It's a close relative of zucchini and is technically a fruit, but it's often treated as a vegetable in culinary preparations. While it may be commonly used in savory dishes, it develops from the flowering part of the plant and contains seeds, which are botanical characteristics of fruits.
Origin: Yellow squash has its origins in the Americas. Squash, including various types like yellow squash, was cultivated by indigenous peoples in the Americas for thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers.
These early cultivators selectively bred and developed different squash varieties, including those with a yellow hue. European explorers encountered these squash varieties during their voyages to the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. They brought these newfound crops, including yellow squash, back to Europe, where they were introduced to new culinary traditions.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice and sauté with garlic and herbs, grill for a smoky flavor, or bake into casseroles.
Season: Sweet yellow corn is in season during the summer, typically from late spring through early fall, when it's at its peak freshness and sweetness.
Fun Facts: Each ear of corn typically has an even number of rows, usually 16. Sweet corn results from a natural genetic mutation that occurred in field corn. This mutation causes the kernels to be filled with sugar, making them sweet and delectable.
Origin: Sweet corn, scientifically known as Zea mays var. saccharata or Zea mays var. rugosa, is a variety of maize (corn) that originated in the Americas. It is believed to have been first cultivated by indigenous peoples thousands of years ago in what is now Mexico, playing a significant role in the agricultural practice known as the "Three Sisters." Sweet corn, beans, and squash formed the Three Sisters agricultural system, where these three crops were interplanted to create a sustainable and complementary farming method. This method enhanced soil fertility, improved crop yields, and provided a well-rounded diet for indigenous communities. Following the European colonization of the Americas, sweet corn was introduced to Europe and gradually spread worldwide, becoming a popular and cherished vegetable due to its delicious taste and versatility in various culinary dishes.
How to Eat/Prepare: Boil, grill, roast corn on the cob, or use kernels in salads, salsas, and soups.
Yellow Wax Beans
Season: Yellow wax beans are typically in season during the warm summer months, from late spring through early fall, when they're at their freshest and most flavorful.
Fun Fact: They get their name from their glossy, waxy appearance. Yellow wax beans are typically harvested when they are still young and tender, just like green beans. This ensures the best flavor and texture.
Origin: Yellow wax beans, also known as butter beans or yellow snap beans, have a historical origin in North America. Native to the Americas, they were a staple crop among indigenous peoples long before the arrival of European settlers. These beans were introduced to European settlers by Native Americans, and their cultivation spread across the continent. Over time, they became popular in American cuisine and have since been enjoyed globally.
How to Eat/Prepare: Steam or sauté for a crisp and flavorful side dish, or blanch and toss into salads.
Season: Yellow watermelons are most abundant in the summertime.
Fun Facts: They have a sweeter, honey-like flavor than red watermelons. Yellow watermelons are not genetically modified they are typically the result of traditional breeding techniques and natural variations in watermelon genetics. Over time, farmers and horticulturists have selectively bred watermelons to produce different varieties, including those with yellow or orange flesh
Origin: Yellow watermelons, often referred to as "yellow-fleshed" or "yellow-meat" watermelons, have their origins in Africa, where watermelons are believed to have originated thousands of years ago. These yellow-fleshed watermelons are not a separate species but a different variety of the common watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). Over time, through selective breeding and cultivation, different watermelon varieties with yellow or orange flesh emerged in Africa. These varieties have a sweeter, milder flavor than traditional red-fleshed watermelons and are sometimes preferred for their unique taste and appearance.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice and enjoy chilled on a hot day, blend into refreshing smoothies, or use in fruit salads.
Golden Delicious Apples
Season: Golden Delicious apples are typically harvested in the early fall.
Fun Facts: They are a favorite for making applesauce due to their sweet and tender flesh. Many home gardeners plant Golden Delicious apple trees because they are relatively easy to grow and maintain.
Origin: The Golden Delicious apple, including its yellow variant, has its origins in Clay County, West Virginia, USA. It was discovered by a local farmer named Anderson Mullins in the late 19th century. The original Golden Delicious apple tree was a chance seedling that Mr. Mullins found on his farm, and he propagated it because of its exceptional flavor and appearance. Over time, this variety gained popularity and became one of the most well-known apple varieties worldwide.
How to Eat/Prepare: Enjoy them as a crisp and sweet snack, add slices to salads, or use them in pies and desserts.
Season: Yellow plums are at their best in the late summer.
Fun Facts: They are often used to make jams and preserves. Yellow plums are known by various names in different regions. They are often called Mirabelle plums but can also be called Mirabelle prunes or cherry plums.
Origin: Yellow plums have their origins in the Lorraine region of France. The mirabelle plum is a small, sweet, and flavorful fruit that has been cultivated for centuries in this region. It is believed to have been introduced to Europe from Asia and has since become a beloved delicacy.
How to Eat/Prepare: Eat them fresh, make plum compote, or use them in tarts and pastries.
Season: Yellow zucchini is abundant in the summer months.
Fun Facts: It's a type of summer squash with tender skin. Yellow zucchini is typically harvested when young and tender, usually about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long. This ensures the best flavor and texture. Yellow squash comes in various forms, including crookneck, straight neck, and pattypan (see below). Each has its unique shape and taste.
Squash, including yellow squash, was one of the "Three Sisters" crops grown by Native American tribes, along with maize (corn) and beans. This trio of crops was a staple of many Native American diets and provided a balanced and sustainable source of nutrition.
Origin: Like other squash varieties, yellow squash originates in the Americas. Squash, including yellow and green varieties, was cultivated by indigenous peoples in the Americas for thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice and grill, use in stir-fries, or add to vegetable lasagna for a colorful twist.
Season: Yellow cherries are typically available in early summer.
Fun Fact: They are slightly sweeter than red cherries and have a unique flavor.
Yellow cherries are also known as Rainier cherries. The harvest season for yellow cherries is relatively short, usually occurring in early to mid-summer, making them a sought-after seasonal treat.
Origin: Yellow cherries, specifically the Rainier variety, were developed through controlled breeding efforts by Washington State University (WSU) researchers in the late 1950s. They crossed the Bing cherry, known for its sweetness and deep-red color, with the Van cherry, which had a yellow hue but lacked the desired sweetness.
After years of selective hybridization, they successfully created the Rainier cherry, named after Mount Rainier. This variety's golden-yellow skin with a pinkish blush and its sweet, mild flavor quickly made it a favorite in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Washington State, where it is widely cultivated and enjoyed today.
How to Eat/Prepare: Enjoy them fresh, use them in pies, or make a delicious cherry compote.
Season: Yellow figs are in season during the summer and early fall. Fig trees, including those that produce yellow figs, are relatively easy to cultivate. They are well-suited to warm climates and can thrive in home gardens.
Fun Facts: Figs are one of the oldest cultivated fruits, dating back thousands of years. Fig wasps play a crucial role in the pollination of figs. Female wasps enter the figs to lay their eggs, and in the process, they pollinate the fig flowers. This unique relationship is essential for fig production.
Origin: Like other fig varieties, Yellow figs have a long and ancient history that can be traced back to various world regions. Fig trees are believed to be one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees by humans. While there isn't a single specific origin for yellow figs, fig cultivation dates back thousands of years to regions in Asia and the Mediterranean, including modern-day Turkey, Greece, and the Middle East.
How to Eat/Prepare: Eat them fresh, add them to cheese platters, or bake them with maple syrup and nuts for a delightful dessert.
Yellow Pattypan Squash
Season: Pattypan squash is at its peak in the summer.
Fun Facts: It is also known simply as pattypan or scallop squash. It looks like a small, flying saucer or a UFO, making it stand out in the garden and on your plate. While pale yellow or green pattypan squash is the most common, you can also find them in vibrant shades of white, yellow, and green. Some varieties even have mottled or striped patterns.
Origin: Pattypan squash, also known as scallop squash, is believed to have originated in the Americas, particularly in the region that now includes Mexico and Central America.
These squashes were introduced to European explorers and settlers during the Columbian Exchange in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. As a result, they became part of the global exchange of crops and eventually found their way to different parts of the world.
The name "pattypan" is thought to have originated from the French word "pâtisson," which refers to scallop-edged pies or cakes. This name reflects the squash's distinctive scalloped shape.
How to Eat/Prepare: Slice and sauté, stuff with a filling, or roast with herbs for a unique side dish.
Season: Yellow dragonfruit is typically available year-round.
Fun Facts: It's also known as pitaya and is prized for its striking appearance. Yellow dragonfruit has a sweet, tropical flavor that is often described as a combination of pear, kiwi, and honey. It's less tangy than its red counterpart. Yellow dragon fruit is grown on a cactus plant called Hylocereus megalanthus. The plant produces large, white, night-blooming flowers that eventually develop into the fruit.
Origin: Yellow dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya amarilla, is a tropical fruit that is believed to have originated in the Americas, specifically in the region of Central America and parts of Mexico.
How to Eat/Prepare: Yellow dragon fruit can be eaten fresh and is often enjoyed as a simple snack. Cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Serve them cold on a hot day.
It can be blended into tropical smoothies with fruits like bananas, mangoes, or pineapples, and you can add vegan yogurt or coconut milk for creaminess.
Dice it for a burst of color and flavor in fruit salads, where it pairs great with other tropical fruits like papaya, kiwi, and passion fruit.
Elevate your desserts by using yellow dragon fruit as a vibrant garnish for ice cream, yogurt, or panna cotta, enhancing the presentation of your sweet treats.
For a refreshing sorbet, blend it with sugar and a splash of lime juice, then freeze the mixture to the desired consistency.
Season: Yellow kiwifruit is in season during the summer. But thanks to global cultivation, you can find yellow kiwis in markets throughout the year, making them a convenient and nutritious snack option.
Fun Facts: They are sweeter and less tart than green kiwifruit. Unlike the fuzzy skin of green kiwis, yellow kiwis have smooth, hairless skin that's edible and easier to eat. You can slice and scoop out the vibrant yellow flesh with a spoon.
Origin: This is the result of selective breeding and crossbreeding programs that took place in New Zealand in the early 20th century. The Zespri Gold variety, one of the most well-known yellow kiwifruit varieties, was introduced to the market in the early 1990s.
How to Eat/Prepare: To enjoy yellow kiwis, start by rinsing them under cold water and gently scrubbing the skin to remove dirt. Then, cut off both ends and either slice the fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon or peel the skin and slice it into rounds or wedges. Add to fruit salads and smoothies, or make kiwi salsa. You can also use them as a colorful garnish for desserts like tarts or sorbets.
To learn more about other colorful varieties, check out these articles:
- Top 10 Orange Vegetables
- Top 11 Red Vegetables
- Top 10 Purple Vegetables
- 9 White Fruits and Vegetables (With Pictures)