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17 Fruits and Veggies to Stock Up On Now
From sweet corn to cherries, here's the most delicious and affordable produce to nosh on this summer.
By Marie Suszynski
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Shopping with the seasons not only keeps your menu fresh and exciting, but it also shaves money off your grocery bill. For most areas of the United States, the greatest abundance of seasonal food is available in the summer. Summer tomatoes and cucumbers make divine fresh salads, while peaches and melons can be whipped up into delicious, healthy desserts. While each region of the country has its own local crops, chances are you will find most of these summer fruits and veggies in abundance this time of year.
Bite Into These Seasonal Fruits
There’s nothing sweeter than freshly picked fruit. Look for these varieties at the farmers’ markets:
- Berries.Berries may be available in the spring in some areas of the country, but , blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are more widespread during the summer months. To get the most flavorful berries, be sure they were picked when they were ripe, says Kathy Cooley, RD, a dietitian and a blueberry farmer in Batesville, Indiana. Look for berries with an even color that don’t have a smell to them — if they smell like the fruit, it means they’re over-ripe, she explains. Also avoid berries that have a lot of moisture on them — .
- Sweet and sour cherries.Cherries are abundant in many areas during the summer. The best way to choose them is to taste one before you buy, Cooley says. Although that may be hard to do at a supermarket, most farmers who sell their produce at a market or a farm stand will allow you to have a taste.
- Peaches and nectarines.Juicy peaches and nectarines are a . Avoid peaches that are hard to the touch. “You want it to have some texture,” Cooley says. Like berries, it’s better to buy a peach that you can’t smell unless you’re prepared to eat it the same day.
- Plums.Like peaches and nectarines, it’s best to choose plums that give a little when you touch them. If a farmer has set out sliced fruit for sampling, by all means taste before you buy, Cooley says.
- Watermelon and cantaloupe.Summer screams for thick slices of . It’s best to choose whole fruits and slice them at home rather than buying precut slices at your store, Cooley says. Fruits and vegetables lose some of their nutrients once they’ve been cut and exposed to light. If it’s impractical to buy a whole watermelon, go for a wedge rather than slices, she says. Seedless watermelons are fine to buy for their convenience, Cooley adds.
- Concord grapes.Green and red table grapes typically come from California or Mexico. But you can find rich tasting, blue-purple Concord grapes at farmers’ markets; these can be made into juices and jellies, or eaten raw. Choose plump grapes that aren’t leaking liquid.
- Apples.Although apples are typically thought of as a fall fruit, some varieties become available in the summer with even more cropping up in the fall. Look for crisp, firm apples for the best flavor.
- Tomatoes.Plum tomatoes are great for making tomato sauce and , while bigger beefsteak tomatoes are delicious sliced and added to a sandwich, or enjoyed in a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad. Cherry and grape tomatoes can be added to salads or popped into your mouth for a snack. Cooley says to look for tomatoes that are uniform in color; store them at room temperature to preserve their flavor.
Veggies That Are Best in the Summer
The wide variety of delicious vegetables in season during the summer months makes it easy to get your daily veggie requirement. Add these vegetables to your meals:
- Lettuces.You’ll begin to see lettuce (and spinach) in the , and they’ll continue to be available in the summer except during the very hot months, Cooley says. Choose lettuce heads that are crisp and not wilted for the best flavor.
- Darker greens.Kale, Swiss chard, and mustard greens are usually available all summer, Cooley says. If you don't like their more assertive flavor, cut out the stem and slice the leaves into small pieces so you can add just the right amount of flavor to a pasta dish or green salad. Cooley enjoys sautéing chopped onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil and adding sliced Swiss chard to the pan; add some water, cover, and let the greens steam over low to medium heat until they’re just wilted. Look for cleaned leaves that are uniform in color.
- Sweet corn.Corn on the cob is a summer staple, and corn is sweetest when it’s eaten as soon as it’s picked. “It loses sweetness every hour that passes after it’s picked,” Cooley says. Some people even eat it raw right off the stalk.
- Zucchini and summer squash.There are many ways to enjoy zucchini and summer squash, from grilling the veggies to layering them into vegetable lasagna to them for a low-carb pasta substitute. Cooley prefers squash that are small because they have fewer seeds and more flavor.
- Carrots.Forget the bagged variety at the store. “When you get a good, , the flavor is just incredible,” Cooley says. Eat them raw, grilled, steamed, or sautéed. Look for carrots with green stems that aren’t wilted.
- Peppers. are also ultra-tasty when they’re fresh, Cooley says. Choose ones with a uniform color and a firm flesh.
- Green beans.There are a variety of green beans to choose from, but always choose beans that are crisp and not wilted or wrinkled.
- Cucumbers.Like squash, Cooley suggests buying smaller cucumbers because they have fewer seeds. Chop them for a salad, slice and dip in hummus, or .
- Fresh herbs.Basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and mint are all abundant in the summer time. Snip and use them to season eggs, salsa, chicken, or fish. When shopping, choose herbs that are a vibrant green color and aren’t wilted.
Where to Shop for Summer Produce
It’s easy to find delicious, locally-grown fruits and vegetables in the summer. Here’s where to look:
- Stroll farmers’ markets and stands.Unless you grow your own, buying directly from farmers is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the freshest, most flavorful produce available. Go to to find farmers’ markets near you.
- Visit a pick-your-own farm.Many farmers allow consumers to pick their own produce right off the tree or vine, which saves you and the farmer money. This is ideal for fruits such as berries that are best when they’re eaten within a couple of days of being picked, Cooley says. Find local pick-your-own farms at .
- Search out supermarkets.More and more supermarkets are offering locally grown, fresh produce, so look for signs in the produce department and ask questions when you shop.
- Grow your own.Cooley suggests growing as much as you can yourself, even if it’s in containers on a small deck or herbs on a windowsill. “It makes you feel more connected to your food,” she says.
Put Your Produce to Work In These Healthy Recipes
With so many seasonal food choices in the summer, you’ll never run out of delicious dishes to make. Here are a few healthy recipes you can make with your summer bounty:
- Arugula Salad With Honey-Drizzled Peaches:A filling lunch or tasty first course for a summer dinner, this salad features pecan-coated goat cheese atop a bed of zesty arugula leaves. Finished off with juicy peaches and a drizzle of honey, this recipe is sure to become a staple in your summer menu.
- Raw Tomato Sauce:Forget slaving over a hot stove on warm summer days. Use fragrant basil and ripe plum tomatoes to whip up this flavorful tomato sauce — no cooking required!
- Creamy Cucumber Soup:Soup makes for a filling meal that keeps calories in check while you pack in nutritious produce. Use hydrating cucumbers, creamy avocado, and tangy yogurt to cook up a summer-friendly soup you can enjoy hot or chilled.
Enjoy summer’s bounty through the fall and winter by peeling and chopping fruits and veggies and storing them in the freezer.
Video: Learn Names of Fruits and Vegetables with toy velcro cutting food! 🎀
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