Savor all the fresh flavors of summer!
Just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations, seasonal fruit is in its full glory right now. Apricots and other stonefruit like peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots and apriums are weighing heavy on farmers market tables.
And there are many interesting varieties that you won't find in any supermarket produce section. Casslebrite peaches, honey diva nectarines, and Catalina plums are just a few interesting types.
Luscious sweet little berries are making their appearance, including incredible blackberries, both red and golden raspberries, and of course, strawberries.
Watch for sweet juicy melons like cantaloupe, casaba, canary, honeydew, Persian and watermelon to arrive very soon.
Pick the perfect pepper! Everything from sweet bell peppers and banana peppers to the hottest Thai chile peppers and habanero are now available.
Local sweet corn, both white and yellow, is in high demand. And many varieties of summer squash abound -- yellow, pattypan, crookneck, zucchini, globe and Italian.
There are green beans, celery root, artichokes, jicama and lemon cucumbers to try as well.
But best of all, long-awaited heirloom tomatoes are here!
Heavy with juice and flavor, these monsters of taste come in unique shapes, colors and sizes, from the striped green zebra and dark red Cherokee purple, to chocolate stripe and Brandywine yellow.
More heirlooms are being brought to market every year, preserving flavor and texture. There are also the usual suspects like cherry and grape tomatoes, early girl and beefsteaks that have amazing taste, too.
Don't forget to pick up your cooking staples like crimini, button and oyster mushrooms, Yukon gold or red potatoes, carrots, onions, fresh herbs, and big bulbs of fragrant garlic.
Good cooking starts with fresh ingredients.
Coming soon: Summer produce arrived at breakneck speed this year due to a warm dry spring so expect figs and grapes very soon.
Red, White & Blueberry Parfait
1 8-ounce carton vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh whipped cream
3 cups fresh raspberries and strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and almond extract. Fold in whipped topping. Wash all berries, remove stems from strawberries.
To serve, alternate layers of berries with layers of yogurt mixture in six 12-ounce glasses or dessert dishes.
Make ahead: Prepare as directed and chill for up to 1 hour.
Farmers markets are open rain or shine.
Visit www.pcfma.com or call 800-949-FARM (800-949-3276).
The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Debra Morris, promotions coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact her at email@example.com.