MementoImageMementoImage / iStock / Getty Images Plus
What’s in season in the United States in summer? It seems like everything is available, as farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, gardens and grocery store shelves explode with fresh produce. Everyday staples like tomatoes, berries, peppers and herbs are at their peak freshness and availability in the summer, making for affordable and scrumptious weeknight dinners. But that’s not all the hottest season of the year has to offer. So get reading and then get cooking with our summer seasonal produce guide.
Though you can find avocados in the grocery store year-round, California avocados are in season from spring through early fall, peaking in the summer months, particularly June. We shouldn’t have to tell you what to make with avocados — the answer is always guacamole! But you can also go the brunch route with some avocado toast or incorporate this creamy fruit into your summertime salsas, like in this pineapple avocado salsa recipe.
Beets may feel like an autumnal specialty, but in many states, this root vegetable actually comes into season in the summer months. Earthy with the potential to be sweet, summertime beets are an unexpected seasonal delight. If you can brave the heat, beets do best when roasted simply in the oven, though you can certainly use them to make soup, salads or sauce.
You may think you know bell peppers from your everyday grocery shopping, but nothing compares to the refreshing, juicy and crisp crops that pop up in July. Green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers are all the same plant, just picked at different levels of ripeness. The green bell peppers are less mature and a bit more bitter, while the brighter peppers have a distinctive sweetness. No matter your preferred pepper, the most popular way to prep bell peppers and let them shine is to make stuffed peppers, but they’re also great in fajitas and hashes as well as pasta salad and other salads that aren’t exactly salad.
Blackberries can be found at farmers' markets in the summer months, though in many regions, their seasonality peaks in July through September. These delicate berries are great muddled and added to cocktails and a variety of mocktails. Of course, another classic way to eat blackberries (besides by the handful for delicious snacking!) is to bake them into a blackberry pie, one of the most iconic pies in America.
Blueberries are chock full of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and potassium and are among the foods you should eat every day. That’s particularly true in July and August when these small berries are at their peak ripeness in much of the U.S. Of course, blueberries are fantastic to eat on their own or on top of yogurt, but they’re also delightful when baked into banana bread, scones or muffins.
The seasonality of broccoli varies across the country, but in the Midwest and on the coasts, you can find fresh broccoli in the summer months. You can let America’s most popular vegetable shine by serving it in a salad or simply roasting it. However, we like to pair broccoli with cheese for a variety of dishes.
Chard, also known as Swiss chard, has sweet, earthy dark green leaves (think spinach) and sweet, crunchy stalks that come in a rainbow of colors. You can find it in farmers markets from late spring to early fall, a.k.a. during the summer. You can cook chard in many of the same ways that you cook other leafy greens: sauteed as a standalone side or as a component in gratins or quiches.
Cherries are one of the most iconic foods in America. This is especially true in Michigan, which produces the most tart cherries in the country and holds the National Cherry Festival every July when these tart yet sweet summer fruits are in season. Don’t miss out on cherries, which are a delicious summertime snack and can be transformed into some creative cherry desserts.
Cucumbers are a crisp, refreshing vegetable, perfect for dipping in hummus, adding to salads or even infusing in water. And, of course, you can’t let summer pass by without pickling some cucumbers to pair with your favorite burger recipes. They’ll pop up in gardens and in farmers markets in mid-summer.
Garlic, a staple of nearly every cuisine around the world, can always be found in grocery stores. Still, if you want local, fresh garlic from the farmers market or your garden, summer is your season in most parts of the U.S. We shouldn’t have to tell you how to use garlic, but if you want to let this aromatic shine, roast it in the oven and spread the golden cloves on fresh, crusty bread. You can also make a punchy creamy garlic salad dressing, toasted garlic or garlic butter.
Snappy, fresh green beans, which can sometimes be purple, have a crisp flavor and crunchy texture, and you'll find them plentiful in the summer. Like other fresh green veggies, green beans shine when prepared simply, whether you choose to simmer them on the stove or roast them in the oven. You can also turn green beans into an irresistible snack by tossing them in bread crumbs and Parmesan and throwing them in the air fryer. If you grow green beans in your garden and find yourself with too many, go the old-school route and pickle them.
Herb gardens come into full bloom in the summer, with gardens producing bounties of basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage and more. Use your herbs on top of fresh pasta or to make loads and loads of pesto. Bold herbs like thyme and rosemary make good additions to comforting dishes like scalloped potatoes or Italian-inspired vinaigrettes.
Potato season varies by region, but you can find spuds at farmers markets and in your CSA on the East Coast and the Midwest starting in the summer months. What can you do with potatoes? More like what can’t you do with potatoes?! This staple starch is great mashed, baked, turned into a tornado, transformed into a potato salad and so much more.
Strawberries start to pop up in late spring and are available and super fresh through the beginning months of summer. In addition to being a great afternoon snack all on their own, strawberries are an excellent sweet addition to salads and salsas. For an especially summery take on strawberries, incorporate them into delicious treats like lemon bars, hand pies and custard.
Unsurprisingly, summer squash come into season in — you guessed it! — summer! These bright squashes come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, from the sunny yellow zucchini to the flying-saucer-shaped pattypan squash to the ombre zephyr squash. These make a fresh, light side and are best when seasoned simply and charred on the grill.
Also known as husk tomatoes, tomatillos will start appearing at markets in July. In America, perhaps the best-known use for these acidic relatives of the tomato is to turn them into salsa after roasting them. Tomatillo salsa is a phenomenal addition to tacos, sopes and more marvelous Mexican recipes.
Quite possibly the star of summer, tomatoes appear at the farmers market and fully ripe in your garden starting in July and lasting through the end of summer (and a bit beyond). Cherry tomatoes are all the rage thanks to a viral feta pasta recipe that’ll be even better with fresh produce. Or you can let them shine on their own in a simple tomato and basil salad. Red beefsteak tomatoes are great for stuffing with couscous, baking as a casserole or transforming into pico de gallo. Plum tomatoes make phenomenal sauces, preserves and homemade bacon and tomato ketchup, while heirloom tomatoes shine raw on BLTs and other next-level sandwiches.
Zucchini seem to be everywhere come summertime and become particularly present in July. This simple squash stands out for its versatility. You can let it take the spotlight as the main course by making zucchini boats or zucchini frittata or let it be a little appetizer as a quick and easy soup, part of a grilled veggie medley or zucchini bread.
Whether you grow zucchini and other summer produce, buy it at the farmers market or get it in a CSA box, cooking seasonally is just one of the 50 things that should be on your summer foodie bucket list.
More from The Daily Meal: