Six Fruits For the Summer Season
I don’t know about you, but come January I am already dreaming of the coming summer’s bounty. I find myself daydreaming about my garden and the gardens of others, the farmers markets, u-picks and the like. Thankfully, I usually have tucked away most of my summer’s harvest in my cellar, where you can find all sorts of jams, jellies, fruits and pickled items that last us most of the fall, winter and spring. January and the long winter and spring have come and gone, and now the reality of the bounties of summer are upon us.
Today I want to share six of my favorite summer fruits with you. Not only that but I thought I would share some pairing ideas that you may not have come across on your journeys.
To me, peaches are one of the greatest gifts of late summer. In my home state, Washington, we have the opportunity to get our hands on plenty of fresh peaches. In fact in addition to what we eat fresh in our home, I can around 75lbs of these juicy, sticky babies every summer. This way my family can enjoy this treat far into the winter.
Let’s talk fresh though. There isn’t a feeling much better than that of sinking your teeth into a fresh, ripe peach and having the juices run down your arms. You obviously can go to the old faithful recipes: crisps, cobblers, fresh peach pie. And I am sure you have heard of grilling peaches? No? Simply slice a firm peach in half (remove the pit) and put the halves flesh down a fairly warm oiled grill, once you have achieved some fancy grill marks, remove them from the grill and top each half with a scoop of ice cream then enjoy! This is not only fool proof, but provides a great presentation when you are entertaining guests.
Strawberries are a sure sign to me that summer has arrived. Whether at a u-pick, farmers market, or a roadside stand, purchasing fresh berries puts the off season grocery store variety to shame. Fresh berries, in general, are hard to beat.
One of my favorite things to do with strawberries in the summer is make a fresh spinach salad. Mix your sliced berries with spinach, top with a simple balsamic dressing and toss in a large bowl. I could eat bowls of this salad. (For a quick and easy dinner option: add a grilled chicken breast and you’ll have a complete and nutritious summer meal.)
P.S. don’t forget to put up some freezer jam to use throughout the rest of the year.
Sometimes this summer treat gets a bad rap. I hear a lot of mixed reports on watermelon (and for good reason): it is hard to find it local, and it can be difficult to find it as an organic crop as well. But never fear, great watermelon can be found.
I know I mention farmers markets a lot, but they are such a treasure this time of year, search them for local melon farmers. Locally grown melon is a very special treat.
One of my favorite things to do with watermelon, other than devour it, is to make agua fresca with it. Watermelon is already so naturally refreshing but when made into a beverage it takes it to a whole new level.
Currants are the unsung hero of the food world. They are traditionally thought of as an acquired taste, especially if you haven’t grown up eating them. But I assure you they can make beautiful jams and jellies, as well as some really beautiful sauces for grilled meats. My favorite meat to pair with currants happens to be pork. A grilled pork tenderloin drizzled with the likes of a perfectly savory currant sauce can be quite yummy.
The tartness of the currants fruit lends well to the pairing with sweet things, so savory desserts are also a nice option for these sweet and sour berries.
Cherries are just one of those fruits that need not be bothered with too much. How lovely is it to have an excuse to sit on your back patio and munch on a bowl of fresh cherries and have free reign to spit the pits as you go? Cherries happen to be one my family’s favorite hiking snacks, we eat them by the handful, and spit the pits as we walk along.
If you have the patience, drying fresh cherries in a dehydrator is a great treatment for this fruit. Pitting them with a cherry pitter can prove to be tiresome. However, I like to have the dried fruit on hand for granola and stuffing come autumn.
Now, I know very well that rhubarb is a vegetable but I am going to take creative license to cheat a bit with this one. Rhubarb is a fabulous ingredient to add to many recipes. In fact, it pairs wonderfully into pies, muffins, jams and even can be added to your favorite applesauce recipe. Rhubarb happens to be one of my favorite crops of the summer!
I love to cook it down in a pan with a dab of honey and some fresh squeezed orange juice for about 15 minutes on low heat. This can then be enjoyed with yogurt to make a fabulous breakfast or to ice cream for a yummy dessert.
My biggest tip though for summer fruits is this: snatch them up as much and as often as you can. Summer will be gone before you know it, and so will the bounties that come along with it.
And as always don’t be afraid to play with your food, try new things…experiment.
Jessica Jäger is an in home chef and caterer and owner of the Angry Blueberry. Wife and mom to two sweet kids and a husband who complain very little about the amount of veggies she makes them eat. She loves making memories with food!
Mixed fruit photo credit: youngdoo via photopin cc,Watermelon photo credit: diskychick via photopin cc, Cherries photo credit: diskychick via photopin cc, Peaches photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc, Rhubarb photo credit: frangrit via photopin cc