Seasonal food: summer fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables at the farmers marketSunshine, beach days, camping, cookouts– there’s a lot to love about summer. My favorite part of summer is when the seasonal summer vegetables hit my community’s farmers market. Strolling past table after table laden with freshly picked berries, heirloom tomatoes and green vegetables galore, makes me happy deep down in my soul.

Summer is also ripe (no pun intended) to get outside and dig in the dirt in your own backyard or patio boxes. Even if you don’t have much space or green fingers, you can get started with an herb garden or a single tomato plant. There’s something incredibly satisfying about eating foods you’ve grown, even if it’s just sprinkling fresh parsley over your spaghetti squash Parmesan. You’ll feel like you’re starring in your very own cooking show once you’ve mastered that technique of sprinkling spices and salt from high above the plate. Bam!

The point is, fresh fruits and vegetables are one of the highlights of the season, so make the most of what these summer months have to offer.

8 Summer Fruits and Vegetables We Love

asparagus

Depending on where you live, you can harvest asparagus from late winter to early summer. Green asparagus is the most common, but don’t miss the chance to try the purple or white varieties if you find them. All types of asparagus are delicious grilled, baked or roasted, but be careful not to overcook them. Flabby, slimy asparagus is less attractive. Ot, try shaving raw asparagus in salads with a vegetable peeler.

  • How to store asparagus: Cut the ends off the stems and place the asparagus upright in a pot of water in the refrigerator. Asparagus only keeps for a few days, so use them as soon as possible.
  • How to store asparagus: Asparagus can be frozen or canned, although both change the texture significantly (and not always pleasantly). Also try pickling it.
  • How to freeze asparagus?: Cut off the woody ends before freezing. Cut the spears into two or three pieces, if desired. Blanch the asparagus for two minutes for thin stems or up to four minutes for thick stems. Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container.

Try this recipe: asparagus dip

berries

Freshly picked berries are one of the absolute highlights of summer. Even low carb and keto people consider berries for their high nutritional value and relatively low carb content compared to many other fruits. You’ll find all kinds of berries at your summer farmers’ market, including blueberries, strawberries, and “blackberries,” the berry family that includes raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, bilberries, and marionberries.

  • How to store berries: To wash or not to wash, that is the question… and there is no clear answer. Some people argue that you should not wash berries until you are ready to eat them. Others claim that you should dip them in a 3:1 solution of water and white vinegar to kill mold spores and extend shelf life. (Except raspberries — everyone seems to agree that you shouldn’t wash raspberries until right before eating.) If you go the vinegar bath route, soak them for a minute or two, rinse well and place to dry on a kitchen towel . Either way, store berries in the refrigerator in a container with a thin towel to absorb moisture. Reuse store-bought plastic clamshells or use a covered glass container, but keep the lid cracked. Replace the towel if it becomes damp. Store different types of berries in separate containers, as some spoil faster than others.
  • How to store berries: Freezing is the best way to store berries. You can also pressure them as canned foods or jellies, but look for recipes that don’t have heaps of added sugar.

Try these recipes: Keto Cheesecake Parfait, Keto Blueberry Muffins

cucumbers

Cucumbers have a long and storied history as one of the first domesticated plants. What is your favorite kind of cuke? It probably depends on whether you grew up eating the thicker skinned cucumbers that are most common in America, English cucumbers with thinner skins and fewer seeds, smaller and more delicate Persian cucumbers, or something else. There are nearly 100 varieties to choose from.

  • How to store cucumbers: Cucumbers like to hang in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
  • How to store cucumbers: pickles!

Try this recipe: Greek salad with spiral cucumber

Eggplant

Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are a staple in the diet around the world. Fun fact: Despite their vegetable flavor, eggplants are actually fruit berries, to be exact, because they grow from a single flower.

  • Storing eggplant: Eggplants do not have a long shelf life after harvest and do not like cold. You can keep them in the fridge for a day or two, but after that they will begin to wither.
  • Storing eggplant: You can freeze or pickle it, but it’s really best to eat eggplant fresh.

Try this recipe: Roasted Eggplant Filled With Lamb

Green beans, in other words beans

Yes, green beans are legumes, but before you ditch that casserole of green beans, I have some good news. Green beans are, and always have been, considered very friendly, as long as you have no problem eating them. Fresh green beans don’t have the same phytate problems as dried beans, and many people who avoid dried beans can enjoy green beans without a problem, at least occasionally.

  • How to store green beans: Store in a storage bag in the crisper drawer. Try to use within three days or so.
  • How to store green beans: Frozen and canned green beans are both fantastic, or try pickling them.

Try this recipe: Airfryer Green beans

Herbs (basil, coriander, parsley, chives, etc.)

Herbs don’t just make food taste great, they also provide a variety of health benefits, from antioxidant properties to treating digestive problems. All herbs bloom in summer. They are easy to grow indoors or out, in small containers or large garden beds. Perfect for novice gardeners or those looking to create a small vegetable garden.

  • How to store herbs: If possible, wait to cut fresh herbs until you are ready to use them. If you buy them from the market, remove dead leaves, cut off the bottoms of the stems and place bundles of herbs in pots of water, like flower bouquets. Store jars of tender herbs such as parsley and coriander in the refrigerator, loosely covered with a food storage bag if desired. Woody herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme can be left on the counter. Basil should also stay on the counter; cold temperatures turn the leaves black. Change the water if necessary. Most herbs can be kept for a few weeks or longer with this technique.
  • How to store herbs: When it comes to preserving herbs, you have two main options. The first is ddry-using a dehydrator or let fresh herbs dry in the sun. You can even use a microwave to dry herbs! The second is freezing– mix herbs in olive oil, avocado oil or water and then freeze in ice cube trays. Oil-based spicy sauces such as Pesto and chimichurri also freeze jars or ice cube trays well. Or make compound butter, which can also be frozen in freezer paper. (Tip, slice it before freezing so you can thaw individual lumps of butter if you need to.)

You can also use fresh herbs in oil, salt, or spirits such as vodka or gin.

Try these recipes: Cauliflower Steaks With Chimichurri, Salmon With Pistachio Pesto

tomatoes

Is there anything more quintessentially summer than fresh tomatoes from the garden? There are a thousand and one ways to enjoy summer tomatoes, so eat it up! (And yes, for the record, tomatoes are a fruit.)

  • How to store tomatoes: If your tomatoes aren’t quite ripe when you get them from the farmer’s market, you can place them on the counter in a loosely closed paper bag to aid ripening. For ripe tomatoes, there is much debate about whether the counter or crisper is the right place to keep them. Some say the crisper takes away from them, so you should only refrigerate them if you need them to stay fresh for more than a few days.
  • How to store tomatoes: Can make whole tomatoes, chopped tomatoes or any of many salsa and sauce recipes with these delectable fruits. Salsa or sauces can also be frozen well. Dry tomatoes and store them in oil.

Try these recipes: Garlic Balsamic Chicken Frying Pan With Cherry Tomatoes, Caprese Salad

Zucchini (and other summer squash)

Like eggplants, zucchini are botanically classified as berries (just like cucumbers and pumpkins!) Zucchini are prolific, which is why your green-thumb neighbor is always trying to pawn off any excess zucchini coming in late summer. They’re also incredibly versatile as an ingredient in everything from salads to desserts, so take any offers of free zucchini!

  • To store zucchini: Store in the crisper and try to use within a few days.
  • To store zucchini: You can freeze zucchini, but the best way to store it is to make zucchini chips in the dehydrator or zucchini muffins or bread to stick in the freezer.

Try these recipes: Keto Zucchini Brownies, Zucchini Fries

I hope you are now enjoying a plethora of summer vegetables! What grows in your garden?

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About the author

Lindsay Taylor, Ph.D., is a senior writer and community manager for Primal Nutrition, a certified Primal Health Coach, and the co-author of three keto cookbooks.

As a writer for Mark’s Daily Apple and the leader of the thriving Keto Reset and Primal Endurance communities, Lindsay’s job is to help people learn the what, why, and how of living a health-focused life. Before joining the Primal team, she obtained her master’s degree and Ph.D. in social and personality psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she also worked as a researcher and educator.

Lindsay lives in Northern California with her husband and two sports-obsessed sons. In her spare time she enjoys ultra running, triathlon, camping and game nights. Follow it on Instagram @theusefuldish as Lindsay tries to juggle work, family and endurance training while maintaining a healthy balance and above all having fun in life.

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