ILLUSTRATION BY MARGO RIVERA-WEISS
Choosing produce harvested at its peak is your sure bet for fabulous flavor and freshness.
Small grow pots of herbs and greens, such as those sold by Mariposa Microgreens, have become a popular item at farmers’ markets. If you have one, you’re happily snipping tender and tasty young leaves of basil, amaranth, chard, flax, kale, or nasturtium into salads, soups, eggs, sandwiches, and pastas. It’s also your last chance to find fava bean shoots, greens, and blossoms to use raw in sandwiches or salads or in a quick sauté. The fresh fava pods filled with nutritious beans are available through the summer.
It’s berry and stone-fruit picking time, so head out to the Brentwood U-Pick paradise. When blueberries arrive at our farmers’ markets fresh from the farm, the crowds always gather. The berries’ sturdy structure and distinctive flavor make them a favorite for eating fresh or using in salads and baked goods. Blueberries also take bragging rights among the fruits and vegetables for their spectacular antioxidant content. Summer squash are now arriving in an array of colors and shapes: All are exceptionally versatile in the recipe department.
Sweet corn has arrived and it’s best eaten immediately. Ears stored on ice at the market offer the best chance of best eating at home. Choose from white, yellow, or bi-color varieties that look and feel plump with a moist stem end.
European type pears such as Bartletts are picked ripe but firm. This is one fruit that must be allowed to ripen off the tree or it becomes soft and mushy. Asian pears are picked ripe and ready to eat. Don’t pass up those enticing grapes, figs, and plums.