With sunny days, warmer temps, and afternoon thunderstorms here to stay, summer is right around the corner. June is a vibrant, beautiful month. It’s a celebration of nature in full bloom. Farmers markets are bountiful and berries (finally!) are in season. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to transition into late-spring eating. We’re on the cusp of summer, an opportunity to welcome new fruits and veggies to the table. As you peruse the produce aisle, take advantage of what catches your eye. Try new recipes, diversify your plate, and support your local farmers. Today, we’re diving into produce in season—June version. Consider this your June 2022 produce guide: a cheat sheet for what’s in season this month.
WHAT IS SEASONAL EATING?
Fresher, sweeter, and more flavorful, vibrant fruits and vegetables are the epitome of eating with the seasons. Seasonal eating is a sustainable way of eating. And it has a variety of health benefits! This lifestyle encourages you to focus on produce in season (for your geographic area, specifically). There are many reasons to eat with the seasons, but these are two:
FOODS GROWN OUT OF SEASON NEED RIPENING AGENTS
When foods are grown out of season, they can’t follow their natural growing and ripening rhythms. In order for certain fruits and vegetables to be available year-round, ripening agents are used. These include chemicals, gases, and heat processes. If you want berries in the winter, instead of opting for conventional berries (sprayed with pesticides), grab a bag of frozen organic berries instead. Mix them into yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or make homemade berry jam.
FOODS GROWN IN SEASON RIPEN NATURALLY
There’s no denying that food in season is delicious. It’s also more nutritious and cheaper. Citrus hits different in the winter. Juicy tomatoes are summer’s candy. You get the gist. Naturally-ripened fruits and vegetables—grown and picked in season—are typically full of flavor and nutrients.
HOW TO EAT Seasonally in the summer
From vibrant peppers and sweet tomatoes, to gem-like berries and juicy watermelon, food simply tastes better in the summer. Eating seasonally in the summer means adding more variety to your plate. Think: fresh strawberries, fragrant basil, and grilled corn. With a few simple swaps (like subbing hearty grains for airy couscous or chewy orzo), you’ll usher more creativity to your plate. Plus, you’ll diversify your consumption of vitamins and minerals. How to eat seasonally in the summer is easy—see here. Ultimately, start here, with this June 2022 produce guide.
June 2022 Produce guide
June is all about early-summer fare. Take what’s in season in May and add the following: avocados, beets, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, strawberries, and rhubarb. Get ready for berry pies, crumbles, and cobblers. In the spirit of keeping up with spring’s most delicious produce, below are the ingredients to focus on in June.
The U.S. grows about 90 percent of apricots, worldwide! And most of the apricot production and storage happens in California. This fruit is loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber. Knowing when to pick and eat an apricot makes all the difference—apricots should be a yellow-orange color and feel slightly soft. You can create your own apricot jam, eat them as a blood sugar-balancing snack with raw nuts, or chop them and add them to a bowl of Greek yogurt with chia seeds.
Avocados are my love language. Come summer, they’re plentiful (especially in California, where about 90% of the country’s avocados are grown!). Ripe, ready-to-eat avocados may have a darker color but color can vary so it is best to go by feel as well as color. It will feel lightly soft to the touch. In other words, if the avocado yields to firm, gentle pressure you know it’s ripe and ready to eat. To speed up the avocado ripening process, place unripe avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for 2-3 days. To preserve their ripeness, stick them in the fridge.
This ruby-red root is loaded with powerful nutrients. And while beets can be intimidating, there’s so much more than meets the eye. Beets are one of the very few fruits or veggies with a deep red-purple color, providing a different set of minerals and antioxidants than produce of other colors. A rainbow of benefits, beets are high in fiber—helping control blood sugar levels—as well as vitamins, minerals, and nitrates to support athletic performance and brain function. With the right preparation, they can be surprisingly delicious.
‘Tis the season for berries—from blueberries to strawberries, it’s time to take advantage of nature’s candy. When you buy fresh blueberries, most come in a plastic or cardboard carton. Look for berries that are firm, dry, and smooth-skinned. Like bell peppers, you don’t want shriveled or soft spots. Although size isn’t an indicator of peak harvest, color is. Blueberries should be a deep purple-blue hue.
Every wonder how to tell if a cantaloupe is fresh? Same. The best way to pick a cantaloupe is by smell. It should have a sweet, slightly musky scent. A good cantaloupe also feels heavy for its size, along with a rind that resembles raised netting. When you press on the stem (or where the stem was removed), it should give slightly when pressed with your thumb.
Cherry season starts in May, although depending on where you live you might not see a lot of fresh cherries until now (June). Here in Colorado, we don’t tend to see them at the farmers market until the middle of summer. When shopping for cherries, look for bright green stems, which are signs of freshness. You want cherries that are firm, plump, and dense, with shiny skins and saturated color. Avoid bruised or wrinkled cherries. My favorite cherries are these!
Cucumbers require a long growing season, but most are ready for harvest by June. Look for firm cucumbers, without blemishes or soft spots (which can indicate that they’ve started to rot). Cucumbers should be dark green without any yellow spots. My favorite are Persian cucumbers—they’re delicious in salads, with hummus, and pickled!
When it comes to this June 2022 produce guide, don’t forget about mangoes! The most commonly consumed fruit (world-wide), mangos are high in vitamin A and C. There are many, many different varieties, but mangoes are best when they have a sweet aroma and feel slightly soft, yet firm to touch. Mangoes are delicious in smoothies, salads, salsa, and alongside a protein-forward breakfast.
All hail the mighty strawberry. Juicy, perfectly sweet, and a wonderful addition to everything from salads to a bowl of ice cream, strawberries are as versatile as they are nutrient-rich. Choose berries that have a bright red color and fresh green caps. Strawberries should always be refrigerated and kept dry until just before serving. Be sure to properly store your strawberries. See here for my producing storing tips!
Tender enough to eat raw and hearty enough to stand up to a sauté, Swiss chard is a super versatile green. It’s one of the first spring greens ready for harvest, making it one of June’s best farmers markets finds. Chard can be steamed or sautéed, and it’s great in soups, stews, frittatas, and more. Chard always has green leaves, but the stalks can be a variety of colors.
Summer is the perfect time to savor just-harvested zucchini. Its peak season is June through August. Look for zucchini that are small to medium-sized. They should be firm to the touch. Really fresh zucchini will bristle with tiny hairs! Keep zucchini tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. This is my go-to zucchini bread recipe.
Last but not least, check out my guide on how to store fresh produce so it lasts longer!
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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