Summer produce is arriving. The weather is already warming up, the skies are blue and the farmers markets are filling up with luscious apricots, peaches, nectarines and berries. You will also begin to see bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and summer squash.
Look for apricots this month. There are several varieties from which to choose with Pattersons and Blenheims leading the pack. Pattersons are just plain good eatin', while Blenheims make wonderful apricot jams and sauces.
Peaches and nectarines will follow -- try some of the oh-so-sweet, funny-looking doughnut peaches! Stop by Hamlow Ranch or Resendiz Farm for these scrumptious summer stone fruits.
Berries of all kinds are available, from big strawberries and fat blueberries to sweet little raspberries and blackberries. This reminds me, it's also the time of year to get out the canning jars and preserve some of the marvelous fruits of summer.
Visit Alpine Blue for antioxidant-rich blueberries and Ortiz Farms for sweet raspberries, big strawberries and giant blackberries.
It's also time to get out the grill and cook up some big fat onions, thick slabs of eggplant, gorgeous zucchini and yellow squash halves. Try grilling some tomatoes, too!
Swank Farm has divine summer tomatoes. Bautista Ranch will have an amazing array of bell peppers and hot peppers. And Nuñez Farm will be offering awesome summer squash.
Father's Day gift ideas
You might also think of attaching this attractive gift envelope to a bottle of local Sterling Albert wine, or to a gift pack of Bistro Blends olive oils and balsamic vinegars for a very special gift.
Pick up a selection of flavored nuts from Fontana Farms, creamy artisan cheeses from Achadinha Cheese Company, and fresh hummus dips and bolani from East West Gourmet.
Make up your own basket of his favorites -- you know your dad better than anyone.
Enjoy a wonderful summer and Father's Day. Thanks for supporting your farmers market and your city.
Fresh Apricot Salsa
2 grilled chicken breasts (cook as you normally would on the grill)
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh apricots or peeled peaches
3/4 cup chopped red or green sweet pepper
3/4 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro or parsley
In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Cover; chill in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours, stirring once or twice. Serve with a slotted spoon. Top grilled chicken breasts.
* Note: Because chili peppers, such as jalapeños, contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chili peppers, put plastic bags over your hands or wear plastic or rubber gloves. If your bare hands do touch the chili peppers, wash your hands well with soap and warm water.
The Music and Market Series began May 31, and will continue through Sept. 13. Donations are still being accepted to continue this very popular series so please give generously when the hat is passed. And don't forget to bring dad to DadDay in the Plaza beginning at 11 a.m. There will be a chili cook-off, a Brews Festival and a very special concert.
So enjoy a wonderful summer and Father's Day in Concord this June. Thanks for supporting your farmers market, the Music and Market series, and your city.
Farmers markets are open rain or shine.
The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Vince Scalise, market operations manager, and Debra Morris, promotions coordinator, for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact them at email@example.com.