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Summer Produce

Summer Produce at its Peak

Our guide to what's in season for summer...with recipes that provide fresh menu solutions.

An impressive 11 of the 20 trends highlighted in the National Restaurant Association's 2013 "What's Hot?" Chef Survey revolves around local, farms, nutrition, health and produce—clearly, chefs are paying close attention to fresh produce. The number of farmers' markets has exploded from 4,385 five years ago to 7,175 in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Clearly, consumers are paying close attention, too. Highlighting the season's best does not require a chalkboard menu, changing daily to reflect what's pulled from the earth that morning. It does require that chefs pay attention to what's in season, highlighting that fresh produce on their menu in creative, delicious ways.

What's in Season? Summer Edition (June 21-September 21)

beets

fast fact—from the creamy white "Albina Vereduna" to the candy-striped "Chioggia," beets offer dramatic plate presentation

culinary tip—to save on labor, look for fresh, peeled beets that are sealed in an air-tight container, giving the fresh beets a refrigerated shelf life of up to six months

nutritional profile—very good source of dietary fiber, folate and potassium; good source of vitamin C, iron and magnesium

blueberries

fast facts—they turn reddish when exposed to acids, such as lemon juice and vinegar, and they turn greenish-blue in a batter that has too much baking soda, which creates an alkaline environment²

culinary tip—one dry cup of fresh blueberries equals two-thirds of a cup of puréed blueberries³

nutritional profile—good source of vitamin C and vitamin K; good source of dietary fiber

cherries

fast fact—on average, there are 44 cherries in one pound4

culinary tip—turn your salsa into a seasonal offering by adding cherries to it

nutritional profile—good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C

corn

fast fact—an ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows5

culinary tips—for a hit of fresh, sweet flavor, grate corn for corn pancakes, corn pudding or sweet-corn soup

nutritional profile—good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, thiamin and folate

figs

fast facts—California produces 98% of the nation's fresh figs; look for these varieties: Black Mission, Calmyrna, Kadota and Brown Turkey

culinary tips—divide in half and top with goat cheese; drizzle with olive oil and grill

nutritional profile—good source of dietary fiber

green beans

fast fact—grown by Native Americans along with corn crops, green beans are part of our culinary heritage and tradition

culinary tips—for an Asian twist, add garlic, ginger, chili paste and soy; for a Mediterranean spin, add stewed tomatoes, onion and garlic

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, folate and magnesium

mangos

fast fact—domestically, only Florida, California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico grow mangos

culinary tips—mangos shouldn't be refrigerated until they reach desired ripeness; try using green mango in a savory summer slaw

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin A and vitamin C; good source of dietary fiber and vitamin B6

nectarines

fast facts—nectarines are fuzzless varieties of peaches and are smaller and smoother than peaches

culinary tip—look for fragrant nectarines that give slightly to the touch

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin C; good source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin A

pears

fast facts—according to the Pear Bureau Northwest, Comice and Seckel have a rich sweetness to them, Anjou offers more of a clean sweetness and Bosc lends a honeyed sweetness

culinary tips—lightly poach pears used in salads to keep them from browning ; grill pears for a great seasonal garnish

nutritional profile—very good source of dietary fiber; good source of vitamin C

plums

fast fact—more than 2,000 varieties of plums exist, with about 100 of those available in the U.S.

culinary tips—store between 32°-35°F (minimal breakdown will occur), ripen between 51°-77°F and avoid holding in the 36°-50°F range, where the fruit's lifespan can be shortened by up to 75%6

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin C; good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A and vitamin K

raspberries

fast fact—there's more than just red and black raspberries—look for purple and yellow for added menu interest

culinary tip—frozen raspberries keep for about three months, but freeze raspberries with a bit of sugar and they keep for up to a year

nutritional profile—very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C; good source of vitamin K and magnesium

tomatoes

fast fact—from Cherokee Purple to Green Zebra, heirloom tomatoes add color, variety and a connection to local farms

culinary tip—one pound of fresh tomatoes equals three cups of puréed tomatoes

nutritional profile—very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K; good source of vitamin E and folate

Vidalia onions

fast facts—mild winters, regular rain and low-sulfur soil makes these onions, hailing from Vidalia, Georgia, sweet

culinary tips—stuff these large onions with ground beef or lamb mixture

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin C; good source of dietary fiber, potassium and folate

watermelon

fast facts—44 states grow watermelons, with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently leading the country in production7

culinary tips—the average 20-pound watermelon yields about 53 6-ounce wedges, each ¾-inch thick; the average 20-pound watermelon yields 14 pounds of edible fruit, leaving six pounds of rind

nutritional profile—very good source of vitamin A and vitamin C; good source of potassium

Favorite Summer Recipes

Blueberries

Power Salad Power SaladHealthy Living

Raspberries

Sangarita Sangarita

Fun Trivia for Curious Culinary Minds

Blueberries

The blue paint used to paint woodwork in Shaker houses was made from a combination of milk, sage blossoms, indigo and blueberry skins.8

Blueberries

Cherries

According to cherryamerica.com, Broadway in New York shifts west at East 10th Street because a cherry tree once stood there.

Cherries

Pears

The Seckel pear was discovered growing near the Delaware River in Pennsylvania in the early 18th century by a farmer named Seckel.9

Pears

Watermelon

According to watermelon.org, early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

Watermelon
Summer Seasonal Produce