Summertime is officially here and that means lots of new, bright, and fresh fruits and veggies will be making their appearance in our gardens and shopping carts once again.
Early summer is marked by berry season here in British Columbia. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and Saskatoon berries have been bursting out of the ground (or are just on the cusp) and are as juicy and flavourful as ever! Plus, they taste WAY better than imported varieties from the USA or South America. In term of veggies, zucchini, cucumbers, peas, and rhubarb are all in season right now and are plump and fresh!
We are currently still waiting on stone fruits like peaches, cherries, plums and apricots to come into season, which is typically in mid- to late July. Additionally, melon, grapes, squash and corn are well on their way!
Check back next month for my guide to stone fruits- but for now, read on below to find out how to cook, store and buy the fruits and veggies that are available now!
Strawberries are a true sign that summer has arrived! These bright, juicy, sweet bites are perfect to enjoy all summer long. Strawberries can be baked into desserts, tossed in salads, made into jam, or can be eaten on their own. Any way you have them, they will be delicious!
When buying strawberries, look for plump, bright red berries with vibrant green stems. The berry should not be dark red, wrinkly, nor should it have any blemishes on the flesh. Don’t worry about their shape, strawberries can grow a bit wonky sometimes but they will still taste delicious! I opt for strawberries that are on the small to medium size as their flavours seem to be more concentrated than in larger berries.
Storing: If you are planning on using strawberries the day you buy them, you can store them directly on the counter. If you are saving them for later in the week, place them in the crisper drawer of your fridge as it will keep the berries from drying out. Be sure to not wash your entire basket of strawberries right away, but rather wash them as you need them. Any excess water will spoil the strawberries faster.
Buying: When buying raspberries, make sure that the berries look plump and are bright red in colour. They should not be shrivelled up or wrinkly at all.
Storing: Similar to strawberries, place them in the crisper drawer of your fridge as it will keep the berries from drying out. Be sure to not wash your entire basket of raspberries right away, but rather wash them as you need them. Any excess water will spoil the raspberries faster.
Peas are in season for 0.2 seconds of the year and June/July is the perfect time to get your hands on them. Even though this veggie has a short growing season, it is well worth having freshly grown peas in your meals. They will be much brighter and crisp than frozen peas and will have a lovely garden fresh taste. You can cook peas into a soup, toss them in with pasta, or serve them traditional style as a side dish with butter.
Buying: When buying peas, examine the shell closely to ensure that there are no rough blemishes or holes in it. The pea shell should also be bright green in colour and be relatively firm, not saggy anywhere.
Storing: Store peas unwashed, unshelled in the refrigerator in a bowl or unsealed container that will allow some air to circulate around them. They will keep like this for several days.
If you are a gardener, zucchini is a veggie that you are likely you see popping up in your garden and will continue to see well through to August and September. With this high yielding crop, you need to get creative in your ways to cook and use the vegetable. I personally love to simply grill sliced zucchini on the BBQ with a bit of olive oil and salt. You can also fry it, turn it into a gluten-free zucchini lasagna, bake it into zucchini bread, or spiralize it! Also, not only are the zucchini themselves delicious, but so are the flowers! These edible orange/yellow flowers can be filled with ricotta cheese, coated in batter and deep fried (YUM!) or can be tossed right into salads!
Buying: When buying zucchini, check to make sure that there are no blemishes like scrapes or holes on the flesh. The zucchini should be firm to the touch and feel heavy for its size. The zucchini should be light to dark green if you are buying the traditional variety of zucchini. Yellow zucchini are also a popular variety in the summer and taste the same as green zucchini.
Storing: Store your zucchini in the crisper drawer of your fridge to prevent the zucchini from drying out. Only wash the zucchini when you need it as any excess water will cause the veggie to spoil faster.
Stay cool as a cucumber this summer with this hydrating and refreshing veggie! Cucumbers make for a great addition to any salad or they can just be an entire salad on their own! I also love adding cucumber to my water bottle to give my water a nice fresh and clean flavour!
Buying: When buying cucumbers, check to make sure that there are no blemishes like scrapes or holes on the flesh. The cucumber should be firm to the touch and feel heavy for its size. There should be no soft spots on the cucumber at all and it should be dark green in colour.
Storing: Store it in the crisper drawer of your fridge to prevent the cucumber from drying out prematurely. Only wash the cucumber when you need it as any excess water will cause it to spoil faster.