For most people, summer is all about hanging out by the pool with a great book and copious amounts of sunscreen. But if you’re food-obsessed like we are, summer means getting our hands on all the plentiful, in-season produce our heart desires, from juicy peaches that dribble juice down our chin to crunchy green beans that we can eat right out of the bag. Below, a handy guide to all the summer fruits and veggies that will be in season from June through August—and a must-make dish for each one.
The first crop is harvested in June, so keep your eyes out for tender baby beets at the farmers market before summer officially starts. Not only are they extremely delicious, they’re also a nutritional powerhouse. One serving contains 20 percent of the folate you’ll need in a day, plus they’re packed with vitamin C, potassium and manganese.
What to make: Grilled goat cheese sandwiches with balsamic beets
2. Bell Peppers
Sure, you can pick up bell peppers any time of year at the grocery store, but they’ll be at their prime (and also come with the cheapest price tag) from July through September. Stick with red, yellow or orange bell peppers to get the highest nutritional content: All three are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins.
What to make: Greek-yogurt chicken salad stuffed peppers
If you live in the southern U.S., you’ll start seeing ripe, gorgeous blackberries popping up in stores around June, and if you live in the north, it will be closer to July. Harvesting season lasts only about three weeks, so snatch up a container as soon as you see one. These cute little guys are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E.
What to make: Blackberry panna cotta tartlets
If you snooze on blackberry season, make up for it by buying extra blueberries. They’ll start making their appearance at the farmers market in May and you’ll keep seeing them until late September. Best of all, they’re a complete nutritional powerhouse—just a handful or two will give you a boost of vitamins A and E, manganese, choline, copper, beta carotene and folate.
What to make: Lemon pie with blueberry meringue
From June through August, ripe, juicy cantaloupe will make an appearance at the grocery store. Get your daily dose of vitamins A and C by eating a couple slices with breakfast (or, even better, by drinking one of our frozen cantaloupe cocktails at happy hour).
What to make: Frozen cantaloupe cocktail
It wouldn’t be summer without cherries, which you’ll start seeing at the farmers market around June. Sweet cherries, like Bing and Rainier, stick around through much of the summer, but if you want to get your hands on some tart variations, you’ll need to pay attention. They have a super short growing season, so they’re typically available for only two weeks. But no matter which variety you choose, you’ll be getting a huge dose of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.
What to make: Ginger cherry pie
Do you prefer eating corn on the cob? Or maybe you cut it off to throw into salads and pasta? Regardless, there’s nothing like the real deal. (Sorry, bag of niblets—you’re hanging out in the freezer until November.) Corn grows in all 50 states, so you’ll see it at farmers markets and farm stands galore and know for sure it’s local. Corn is high in fiber, vitamin C, folate and thiamine, so treat yourself to seconds.
What to make: Spicy corn carbonara
“Wait,” we hear you saying, “I’ve been buying cucumbers at the grocery store all winter.” This is true, but you’ll be seeing them everywhere from May through July, and they’ll be way tastier than those waxy, bitter ones you grab from the produce section around Christmastime. Cucumbers have a high water content, so bring them as a snack at the beach or pool to stay hydrated.
What to make: Butter-baked cucumber tostadas
While you can pick up an eggplant at Trader Joe’s anytime, your local farmers market will start carrying locally grown ones around July, and they’ll stick around until at least September. Grilled or baked eggplant can become bitter and soggy, so season it generously with salt and let it sit for about an hour before rinsing and cooking.
10. Green Beans
If you eat these guys only on Thanksgiving, you’re seriously missing out. From May to October, you’ll see green beans piled high on every table at the farmers market. Grab a few handfuls and take them home, because they’re fantastic in salads, lightly sautéed on the stove or eaten straight out of the bag. (They’re also high in folate, magnesium, potassium and thiamin—win, win.)
What to make: Veggie niçoise salad with red curry green beans
There’s a reason lemonade is the official drink of summer (sorry, rosé). Starting in June, you can find us adding lemon to nearly all of our dinners, from pasta to pizza and beyond. While you probably won’t be munching on a whole, raw lemon anytime soon, it can provide more than 100 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. We’ll take another lemonade.
This summery citrus fruit typically peaks from May through October, so you’ll have plenty to squeeze into your guac (and marg!). They don’t have as much vitamin C as lemons, but they’re still packed with good stuff, including folate, phosphorus and magnesium.
What to make: No-bake key lime cheesecake
Francis mangoes (the kind with yellow-green skin and an oblong body) are grown in Haiti, and you’ll find the juiciest ones from May through July. A great source of copper, folate and vitamin C, mangoes can be added to almost anything, including yogurt and even jerk chicken.
What to make: Grilled jerk chicken cutlets with mango salsa
Because okra loves warm temperatures, it’s thought of in the U.S. as a strictly southern veggie. However, okra is thought to have originated in either South Asia, West Africa or Egypt, and it’s commonly used in Indian dishes too. It’s a good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, and it also has some calcium and fiber.
What to make: Easy Indian-inspired kitchari bowls
Ahh, our favorite summer food. Peaches will make a grand appearance at the farmers market in mid-July, and they’ll stick around until early September. The best way to eat peaches? Grab one and bite into it. But if you haven’t had them grilled with a side of cheese, you’re missing out. (BTW, peaches are high in vitamin C and A.)
You can get plums all summer long, and the varieties you’ll find are endless. You’ll see them with red, blue or purple skin or with flesh that’s purple, yellow, orange, white or red. They’re a fabulous hand fruit (so pack a few to take to the beach), but we also love them sliced up in salads and thrown on top of ice cream. Plums are also a low-glycemic food, so they won’t give you that sugar high you might get from other summer fruits.
What to make: Blackberry plum upside-down cake
These ruby-red beauties are available all summer long, both at the farmers market and the grocery store. When you buy them off-peak, they can be expensive, so buy them at a great price while you can. Eat a handful and you’ll benefit from a huge boost of vitamin C, fiber, manganese and vitamin K.
What to make: Lemon-raspberry whoopie pies
Strawberries will pop up in warmer areas of the U.S. during spring, but they’ll be everywhere by mid-June. Like other berries, strawberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, and they have some folate and potassium too.
What to make: Sheet-tray pancakes with peaches and strawberries
19. Summer Squash
FYI, there’s a plethora of different types of summer squash: green and yellow zucchini, cousa squash, crookneck squash and patty pan squash. You’ll recognize them by their more tender skin (as opposed to, say, a butternut). They’re packed with vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as folate, fiber, phosphorus, riboflavin and potassium.
What to make: Skillet pasta with summer squash, ricotta and basil
Are they a veggie? Or are they a fruit? Technically, they’re a fruit, because they grow on a vine—but whatever you decide to call them, make sure you snatch up as many varieties of tomatoes as you can at the farmers market. (We’re partial to heirlooms…the lumpier and more colorful, the better.) Add a tomato to your salad and you’ll add vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K and folate to your diet.
What to make: Rainbow heirloom tomato bruschetta
If summer had an official mascot, it would be a giant, dancing watermelon. Depending on where you live, watermelon season can begin as early as May and last through September. Like cucumbers, watermelons are mostly water, so they’re great for days when you’re out in the hot sun. They’re also a great source of lycopene, antioxidants and potassium, as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.
What to make: Grilled watermelon steaks
While technically a summer squash, we had to give zucchini its own entry because it’s so damn delicious. Zucchini has a neutral flavor and is low in carbs, so it can be easily subbed in for pasta or grated into bread to make your sandwich a little bit more nutritious. And did we mention it’s high in calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium? Swoon.
What to make: Zucchini ricotta galette