I associate summer with fresh, plump, blueberries just like I associate fall with pumpkins. I love the summer for many reasons, but I especially love it because of the abundant, fresh, produce! Summer is not only bursting with flavor, but it is also bursting with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Eat up my friends!
Below are just a few (there are so many) of my favorite things to buy in the summer and how I like to use them:
- Blueberries. Who doesn’t love blueberries!? Blueberries are definitely my favorite berry to eat in the summer because they taste like candy! Once I pop one, I can’t stop! With berries, I always try to buy organic and local if possible. Also, taste a few to make sure they are flavorful. As I mentioned earlier, I like to eat them alone, but I also freeze them by spreading them out on a cookie sheet. Once they are all frozen, put them in a freezer bag. This way we always have fresh blueberries frozen at the peak of the season.
- Green beans. Green beans remind me of my childhood. We ate so many green beans during the summer! You want the pods to be bright green and firm, and they should be able to snap easily. I like to store them in the refrigerator in a colander (you can wash them beforehand or when you are ready to use them) for up to a week. When I am ready to use them, I either steam them or add them to a stir-fry.
- Peaches. We love our peaches here in Georgia! There truly is nothing like a Georgia peach. When buying peaches, make sure they smell like a peach and are slightly squishy. To ripen them faster, you can put them in a paper bag for a day or so. Peaches are on the “Dirty Dozen” list, so, again, I try to buy organic whenever possible. Local is even better! My family loves to have a peach for dessert during the summer. You can also poach them and add a few fresh raspberries and slivered almonds for a fancier dessert.
- Summer squash. I wasn’t always a fan of yellow squash, but once I learned how to pick them and use them they have become a permanent item on our grocery list. When choosing a summer squash, make sure it is firm and on the smaller side. The larger ones can have a bitter flavor. I usually sauté them in some ghee with zucchini, onion, garlic, and fresh thyme.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are usually exploding with flavor in the summer. They truly are at their peak. You want tomatoes to feel heavy, smell like a tomato at the stem, and be free of blemishes. We usually store ours on the kitchen counter, but you can store them in the refrigerator. Just know that they lose some of the flavor if stored in the refrigerator. My husband and I can eat tomatoes alone with just a little EVOO, sea salt, and pepper, but my kids prefer to eat them in their turkey wraps.
Now go out and enjoy all of the flavors that summer has to offer! Your body, skin, and the environment will thank you!