There’s nothing like that first bite of juicy watermelon in the dog days of August. When the seasons turn and the sun comes out, it’s a great time to explore the latest, greatest produce and get into the summer spirit.
When you consume seasonal produce, you get richer flavor and full nutrient composition because your produce is picked at peak ripeness. Buying produce seasonally also allows you to buy locally and support local farmers with a nod to sustainability.
Plus, it’s lighter on your wallet (have you ever seen the price of strawberries in the dead of winter!?) because there’s more produce available.
Below, we’re sharing our favorite summer produce, exactly when it’s in season, and tips on how to incorporate these summer sweethearts into dishes.
Hankering for some summer fruits and veg? Here’s what you can expect to be in season in the warmer months.
- Apricots (May-July)
- Armenian cucumber (June-August)
- Asian pear (July-September)
- Basil (June-August)
- Beets (all year, June-October)
- Bell peppers (July-November)
- Blackberries (May-September; peak from June-July)
- Blueberries (April-September)
- Butter lettuce (June-August)
- Cherries (May-August)
- Corn (May-September)
- Cucumber (May-August)
- Eggplant (July-October)
- Grape tomatoes (June-August)
- Green beans (May-October)
- Honeydew melons (June-October)
- Limes (May-October)
- Mint (year round, best in warmer climates)
- Nectarines (May-August)
- Peaches (May-September; peak in July-August)
- Plums (May-October)
- Raspberries (July-October)
- Shallots (June-September)
- Strawberries (April-June)
- Summer squash (June-August)
- Tomatillo (June-August)
- Tomatoes (June-August)
- Watermelon (June-August)
- Zucchini (June-August)
Let’s get more in-depth info on each precious bit of produce you’ll see this season, including ideas on how best to use them while you can. You might find these summer produce hacks helpful when preparing them.
One of the first stone fruits available in summer, these fade pretty early in the season, but while they’re available, they’re a great source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. They’re also naturally low in sugar, yet not too tart to enjoy out of hand.
Try drying them in a low oven to add to homemade granola, or slicing them fresh for desserts like a clafoutis or to simply serve over yogurt. They pair well with savory foods too, and can be preserved as jam if you can’t finish them all before they go bad.
Believe it or not, this cuke is a species of melon! The Armenian cucumber can grow up to a yard long (whoa) and thrives in the hot summer climate. Maybe you’ve heard its appropriate nickname: the snake melon.
Sweeter than a regular cucumber and a great source of vitamin C, these will add extra delightful crunch to any salad. Our go-to? Combine with grape tomatoes, crumbled feta, and some extra virgin olive oil.
If an apple and a pear had a baby, it would be the delightful Asian pear. This fruit has a crisp texture and oh-so-refreshing taste, and can be stored up to 3 months in your refrigerator. It also has a high water content, making it very hydrating for the hottest months of the year.
Asian pears aren’t usually fodder for pies or jams — instead, they’re most commonly served raw and peeled as a go-to, fiber-rich snack. Be warned, they can fill you up pretty quickly, so start with half! You can try using it in a salad too.
Meet watermelon’s (and mostly everyone else’s) best friend.
This aromatic herb with a spicy kick is a staple in many Italian recipes, but basil is one of the most versatile herbs to cook and create with. Blend it into your own homemade pesto, add it to pizza, or tear it up to add some glam and garnish to your beverages. Watermelon basil margarita, anyone?
Beets can really do it all. They’re there for us for all our juices, soups, sides, and more, because they’re available during all seasons!
What some may not know about beets: Their leaves are also edible. Use the beet greens as your next salad base. They have a similar taste to Swiss chard but sweeter.
Taste the rainbow. No really, what vegetable has more colors than bell peppers? Green, yellow, orange, red, sometimes purple and white, each color reflects its individual ripeness.
The longer the pepper stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes and the more antioxidants it has. Antioxidants help provide protection against free radicals.
Red bell peppers are the sweetest (with the most vitamin C), followed by orange, yellow, and green being the most bitter. Roast them, grill them, sauté them, stuff them, or simply chop and enjoy with hummus at a picnic.
Blackberries are one of the highest-fiber fruits around. A single cup contributes about 8 grams to your daily fiber intake (of the recommended 25-38 grams of fiber total per day).
The fiber is packed in the blackberry’s tiny seeds, and can help regulate your bowel movements, lower blood cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels. Top off your salads and yogurt with these delicious bursts of juicy goodness, or have them go center stage in a blackberry cobbler. Your stomach will thank you all summer.
Just like blackberries, blueberries are a great source of fiber and are packed with loads of antioxidants. Contrary to their notable name, blueberries are actually more of a purple fruit because they contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which contributes to their blue-purple pigment.
Combine all the fiber-rich berries — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries — to make a wholesome fruit salad. Or, pick up a new hobby this summer and preserve blueberry’s tart taste in a jam to enjoy even after the season has passed!
Butter lettuce leaves are sweet and smooth, usually sold with the roots still attached to preserve freshness. They get their name because their leaves are so tender, they melt in your mouth like butter. The fact that they’re also one of the healthiest salad greens you can eat is a wonderful bonus.
A great source of vitamin A (which is important for the immune system), butter lettuce should be stored in its original container, and only washed immediately before using.
People have loved cherries for… we don’t even know how long (but records indicate they’ve been cultivated since at least 72 BC).
A wholesome snack, these fruits are perfect while working at home because you can spit out the pits as you please! Cherries also have a high amount of potassium, a mineral necessary for normal cell function and keeping our hearts healthy and beating strong.
Popcorn, street corn, or old reliable corn on the cob, this starch-filled vegetable is a great source of nutrients.
Grown on every continent on the planet (except Antarctica), corn is packed with vitamin C and other minerals, while also providing a bit of fiber and protein. Its flavor really erupts when an acid (like lime juice) is squeezed on top, or a spicy or earthy seasoning, such as tahini, is tossed in.
Try in raw in corn salads, grill it, or check out more of our top corn recipes here.
This rather large member of the solanaceae (nightshade) family boasts a spongy texture with a mild, bitter taste. Their absorbent texture means eggplants have the ability to soak up cooking oils and other flavors like a sponge.
This vegetable can be grilled (our fave!), baked, or fried (cover in breadcrumbs for a satisfying french fry imposter). We recommend marinating with avocado oil or coconut oil prior to cooking because of their high smoke points.
Check out our bounty of eggplant recipes for other ways to prepare it.
Just as nutrient-packed as their older brother (the regular tomato), grape tomatoes are one of the richest sources of lycopene, a valuable antioxidant that may have blood pressure regulating effects and provide protection from certain types of cancer.
Store your grape tomatoes at room temperature out of direct sunlight and try to eat within the first 3 days for the finest flavor. Try them in all sorts of salads, roast them, smoke them, or use as a no-cook pasta sauce. You can even turn them into a tomato vinaigrette.
Green beans are one of the most functional vegetables, and their flavor opportunities are endless.
Embrace a classic, savory taste by cooking in butter and adding minced fresh garlic. For a sweeter alternative, sauté with brown sugar (and maybe add a handful of bacon nibbles).
Why does honeydew always play second fiddle to cantaloupe? We know it deserves better. Honeydew is actually the sweetest of all melons, with more natural sugars than both cantaloupe and watermelon, making it a tasty dessert or the right fruit to infuse into beverages.
Try chopped honeydew melon with vanilla Greek yogurt, combine it with cucumber in a refreshing salad, or make it into ice pops. After cutting, it should be stored in the refrigerator and can last up to 2 weeks. As with all fruits and veggies, be sure to wash the outer rind well before cutting it.
Although too sour to eat on their own for our taste, limes are the perfect petite citrus fruit to squeeze over any protein for a refreshing aroma juxtaposed with barbecue flavors. While your meats are on the grill, take half a lime and squeeze directly on top, letting the juices sear with the smoke. Grilled limes are great muddled into cocktails too!
Having trouble staying hydrated in this summer heat? Make drinking water a bit more enticing by infusing it with mint. Mint may not add too notable a taste, so don’t be afraid to throw in other seasonal natural flavors to your water bottle like cucumbers, limes, or grapefruit.
We recommend filling up water bottles with these ingredients the night before, then tasting the freshness the next morning. Of course, mint is also great in cocktails — and there’s always grilled watermelon with feta and mint.
Nectarines are pretty similar to peaches, minus the fuzzy exterior. The riper, the sweeter in this case because nectarines are climacteric, meaning they continue to ripen after harvest.
It can be a race against time, so don’t wait! Storing in a paper bag at room temperature until ripe and eating within 2-3 days is a good guideline. You’ll know it’s ripe when it loses firmness. Try slicing a nectarine with some ricotta cheese and arugula for a fresh summer salad or toss some in a cobbler.
When you take your first bite of a ripe peach, you know it’s really summer. Just like nectarines, peaches are climacteric, so the same goes for storing them in a paper bag until ripe and eating within 2-3 days.
Another antioxidant and vitamin trove, peaches also add a syrupy enhancement to any summer salad. Pro tip: They’re even more amazing when grilled! Throw halved peaches on your grill at the next barbecue, drizzle on balsamic glaze, and prepared to be wowed.
As the weather gets hotter, stay hydrated both by drinking water and eating it! A lot of the fruits and veggies on our list have considerable water content along with valuable nutrients, including plums, which are 87% water.
While you’re planning your next walk around the neighborhood or other outdoor activity, bring a couple of plums along to stay hydrated. With any extras, make a yummy plum chutney.
With raspberries (and really any berry), it’s best not to wash them until just before using or eating. Better yet, take the amount you intend to use out of the container and put unwashed raspberries quickly back in the fridge. Raspberries absorb water fast, so it only takes a couple hours before they turn into raspberry mush, which no one wants.
Pair raspberries with fellow summer fruits, especially cantaloupe and peaches. Make fun, fruity popsicles by adding one, two, or all three of these chopped into ice cube trays with a small amount of juice, then freeze for 4-8 hours.
Consider shallots a milder version of your typical onion. Shallots grow similarly to garlic, in clusters with the head composed of many cloves.
As for flavor, these aromatics add a gentle tang to salads, sauces, and side dishes. Try caramelizing your shallots with herbs such as rosemary or oregano with olive oil to create a marinade for any main dish — or crisp them by pan-frying, then add them to tuna tartare.
Strawberries are here for us in breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and, of course, dessert).
The bursting-with-flavor berries add the perfect accent to tons of dishes, including our favorite: cheese boards. Try pairing your strawberries with cheeses such as a gruyere, feta, parmigiano reggiano, and goat cheese.
You can also transform these pairings into salads with the right dressing. We love balsamic or citrus vinaigrettes that don’t eclipse the strawberry taste.
Summer is squash’s time to shine. Although typically available all year round, the variety of squash at the grocery and farmers market explodes during the summer.
Summer squash includes zucchini (round and long), along with multiple other varieties such as tatuma, pattypan, and crookneck squash, all with their own unique texture and flavor. These squashes are all harvested prematurely, so their skin is still tender and edible.
Play around with all the interesting shapes of squashes by making fun boats or bowls stuffed with your favorite protein or veggies.
Also known as a “husk tomato,” tomatillo has a tart flavor and is often a key ingredient in fresh Mexican and Central American green sauces.
But tomatillos aren’t a one hit wonder. These little green guys can be enjoyed raw, jammed, in soups, salsas, or as a side dish! Be sure to remove the brown husks (these are inedible) before using. If the flavor is too tart for your liking, add a little sugar prior to cooking to bring out its distinctive, citrus taste.
Antioxidant-packed tomatoes are at their very best in summer, from unblemished beefsteaks to gnarled heirloom tomatoes. Store them at room temperature and eat ASAP to take advantage of their perfect flavor and texture. This shouldn’t be a problem, since they’re delicious raw with a sprinkle of salt or tossed in pasta.
Watermelon has come a long way since being enjoyed only by the classic triangular slice. It pairs well with a multitude of flavors (think: mint, chili pepper, and savory cheeses such as goat cheese, feta, or halloumi).
In addition to its versatility, it is also a great source of our favorite antioxidant, lycopene (just like tomatoes)! Get creative with watermelon this summer: Throw this fruit on the grill and let the heat caramelize the natural sugars for a refreshing and hydrating sweet treat.
We’ve gone from the A to Z of summer fruits and veggies, arriving finally at zucchini. Turn these oblong squashes into zoodles or slip them into a health-ified mac and cheese. Then check out these zucchini recipes for even more ways to use up summer’s bevy of this green veg.