Even though fall is my favourite season, I have to admit the summer harvest months are great for anyone who likes to spend time cooking, baking, or grilling. Whether you have a garden at your cottage or great local farmers and markets, this is a great time to find out what’s in season and to get cooking with it.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the produce shelves, you’ve probably noticed a bit more colour appearing amongst all the leafy greens.
But what’s in season isn’t always clear, especially when there is imported produce from places like California and Mexico. So to help you figure out what’s farm fresh throughout the summer, we’ve compiled a guide to what’s in season.
June is a great month for produce. You’ll notice a blend of spring and summer fruits and vegetables on the shelves. For leafy greens you can enjoy beautiful fresh arugula, spinach and other lettuces. If you’re looking for heartier greens, there will also be a selection of kales and Swiss chard.
Root veggies like beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes will also be ready to harvest in the early summer months.
If you’ve ever had rhubarb in your garden, you’ll know you normally have a lot of it at this time of the year. And luckily in June, early season strawberries will be available, which means strawberry and rhubarb pies, crisps, muffins, and scones.
Other berries are also coming into season in June and July, including raspberries and blackberries. Cottages on B.C.’s West Coast could have the good fortune of having great local blackberry patches, which means great (free) picking. Blackberries are almost like weeds on Vancouver Island and throughout the Pacific Northwest, and if you head out picking with your friends and families, remember long-sleeved shirts and pants to keep from getting scratched by the thorns.
Early summer is also a great time to buy local garlic and peas.
As June turns to July, there will be more tomatoes and bell peppers available. Zucchini and other summer squashes are going to be delicious through the later summer months.
Stone fruits like plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and cherries make for great seasonal snacks on hot summer days, and are great complements for late season strawberries and blueberries.
Now that you know what’s in season, you might be wondering what to do with the beautiful produce you’ll have access to. Most seasonal and local enthusiasts will encourage you just to enjoy those veggies and fruits as close to their natural state as possible, so that you can really taste their unique flavours.
Salads are a great way to mix a variety of great produce, such as coleslaw with a fresh, crisp vinaigrette instead of a traditional mayonnaise-based dressing.
Vegetable skewers are also a great way to taste the summer seasons, and they’re a great complement to anything grilled. One thing to remember when you’re making vegetable skewers is to cut your veggies so they are a similar size and put produce that cooks at a similar speed on the same skewer so you don’t end up with a mix of over- and under-cooked veggies.
If you’re ever unsure of how to cook or prepare a vegetable, your best source for information is the farmers who grew it. They may even have a great new recipe for you to try, and don’t be afraid to try new cooking methods and preparations.
Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at: victoriaculinaryunderground.wordpress.com.