BY BARBARA KOBSAR
ILLUSTRATION BY MARGO RIVERA-WEISS
When you’re at the farmers’ market, it’s all about what’s in season.
Choosing from items harvested at their peak is your sure bet for fabulous flavor and freshness.
Cherries and berries show off their stuff in June. Orchards on the eastern edge of the East Bay and beyond, in Brentwood, Stockton, Lodi, and Linden produce star cherry varieties like Burlats, Bings, and the red-blushed Golden Rainiers. Buckets of blueberries from the Apple Hill region (around the town of Camino, in the Sierra foothills) arrive with the telltale dusty bloom that indicates they are super fresh! What to watch for in June: okra, garlic, and figs
This is generally considered “peak season,” since it’s the time when choices are bountiful and quality is superb. Stone fruits are rolling in and each week brings new varieties of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and pluots to try. They invite out-of-hand snacking, grilling, baking, and jamming, and also make great additions to salads. Freshness is key when it comes to sweet corn. Rest the ears on a bed of ice to keep them cool. This guarantees the flavor I savor. What to watch for in July: basil, tomatoes
Tomatoes get better each month through the summer. The first vine-ripened field tomatoes arrive in June, but by August the following crops have had a chance to bask in the warm summer sun and develop their flavors. There are dozens of heirloom and designer varieties to choose from. Just remember to store them at room temperature. Refrigeration breaks down a tomato’s texture and flavor. What to watch for in August: figs, cucumbers, melons, pears, eggplant.