Even though I hate to pick favorites, summer is definitely my favorite time of year for fresh produce. Although I love ALL fruits and veggies, the summer selection is hard to beat. Take a quick swing through your local farmer’s market, and you’ll see what I mean.
For expert tips on what to look for, and ways use it, check out our summer produce guide below.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all bursting with flavor and nutrition. As some of the highest-fiber fruits, berries are especially attractive to the health-conscious consumer. Store berries, unwashed, in a container in the fridge and consume within 3-5 days. Use them to naturally sweeten cereals, smoothies, and yogurt. Or better yet, enjoy them straight out of your hand!
When I think of childhood summers, fresh corn was on the menu almost every night. This isn’t surprising, since corn is not only economical, but also has a long season peaking from May through September. For optimal sweetness, try to use corn within a day or two of purchase. If necessary, store corn cobs with husks intact in the fridge. Corn on the cob can be grilled, steamed, or boiled as a side dish, or slice the kernels off the cob for use in cold salads.
This happens to be my personal favorite category. Watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe are all at their sweet peak during the summer months. Due to their high water content, melons are not only refreshing, they can also help keep you hydrated on hot summer days. Store them in the fridge whole, cubed in a container, or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap. Eat sliced melon right off the rind, grill it, or add to salads for a sweet burst of flavor.
Summer squash varieties have thin, edible skin, unlike their winter counterparts. These include zucchini, yellow squash and globe squash. Pick smaller squash for the best flavor, and store in the crisper drawer of your fridge for 5-7 days. Summer squash is very versatile – you can sauté, steam, or grill it, or even eat it raw. Add summer squash to muffins, breads, and other baked goods for an extra nutrient boost.
From the large beefsteak, brandywine, and striped varieties, to the super-sweet but smaller cherry, grape, or roma tomatoes, there are tons of tasty options to try. Look for deeply colored, firm tomatoes, and store unwashed at room temperature for up to a week. Keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator will result in a bland flavor and a mealy texture, so don’t make this common mistake! Use in hearty pasta dishes (hot or cold!), piled onto sandwiches, in cold salads, or all alone with fresh herbs and a pinch of salt.
This list only scratches the surface of the fantastic produce available during the summer months. Our best suggestion? Try something new each week during your trip to the market. You’ll not only get a good variety of nutrients, but may also find some new favorites!