Summertime is just within reach. Sure, the warm weather, no school, and baseball are all fun, but do you know what the real treat is? The food!
There are a lot of foods to look forward to this summer season. Many of these include the fresh fruits and vegetables that are ripening around this time. But those don’t stay fresh for long, and knowing what’s in season when can be a lot to keep track of. So how do you stay on top of it all and avoid missing the juiciest watermelon? Keep reading for tips to make sure you’re able to sample all of the season’s yummiest goodies.
Get Your Calendar Ready
First of all, you can’t quite add seasonal food reminders to your calendar if you don’t already have a good one. What is a ‘good’ calendar, you may ask? Nice paper ones do exist, but the handiest and most practical out there are digital. Not only are you helping the environment by not using paper, but you’ll also find that online scheduling is more convenient.
So what are the benefits of a digital calendar? Having your schedule available at your fingertips is a game-changer. You can check your calendar no matter where you are, which is extremely helpful for last-minute planning. Additionally, you can set up your app to send you notifications for certain events. That means you’ll never forget what’s going on because your phone or computer will send a reminder.
Look Around Your Community
Keeping an eye out for local food-related events is a must for adding some pizzazz to your summer. The season is harvest-time for many fruits and vegetables, and they’ll be the freshest when bought locally. You’ll be able to support your community while also getting some tasty foods.
Do some research on community websites or groups to discover what’s happening in your area. Whether it’s food truck Fridays or a monthly fish fry at a local church, make a note of whatever intrigues you. Then, add whichever events you’d like to attend to your calendar, and when you get a notification — go! Here are just a few events you might want to look out for:
Many towns hold weekly or monthly farmers markets in the summer. These are events during which local farmers set up booths and sell their goods. From perfectly ripe tomatoes for BLTs to corn on the cob to add to the BBQ, the farmers market is a must for fresh fruits and veggies.
There’s more than you would expect at farmers markets, too. Not only do you gain access to organic fruits and vegetables, but there’s usually fresh honey, flowers, and sometimes meats. Each community’s market offers different items, so you’ll have to look around. You could even visit more than one city’s farmers markets if you want to compare selections.
Additionally, these local events are usually family-oriented. Since many local farms tend to be family-owned, they have the kids in mind when setting up the market. Depending on your community, there might be activities and games available for the children. It’ll be a fun day out at the market for everyone.
Looking for a fun activity for the whole family that doubles as a shopping trip? Local orchards are the perfect stop. They have many kinds of fruits available for harvest, and most of the time you get to pick them yourself.
Most pick-your-own orchards have a set price based on weight. For example, you might pay by the bushel or peck. This is a great way to get a personalized amount of fruit that’s just enough for you and your family. Plus, you’ll have chosen each and every fruit that goes in your basket.
Visiting an orchard often gives you the best selection of farm-fresh fruit. Your options will be determined by where you live, of course. The northern regions aren’t usually home to citrus fruits, for example. Just remember if you’re looking for a specific fruit, pay attention to their exact harvest month. There’s really something special about a farm-ripened peach with vanilla ice cream on a warm summer day, and you don’t want to miss it.
State and County Fairs
Have you ever tried a golden-brown fried Oreo? Or feasted upon a foot-long corndog? Maybe your mouth waters for a giant turkey leg. If you’ve experienced one or more of these, then you’ll know such American delicacies pretty much only exist at the fair.
Luckily the upcoming season is home to the majority of state and county fairs. These events can last anywhere from a week to a month, and they offer plenty of sights to see and foods to eat. Additionally, this is another great family-friendly activity that makes for a fun-filled outing. Go fill up on hot dogs and ice cream, then head for a ride on the ferris wheel!
Do you know what else the summer brings? Cultural festivals! These are day- or weekend-long celebrations that bring the community together to honor a certain culture. They usually take place in the summer, too, when you can enjoy the festivities underneath the open sky.
These festivals not only bring together vendors and activities related to a culture, but they also bring delicious food. For example, an Italian festival could offer gelato or cannolis, or a Hispanic one could have elotés or ceviche. You’ll be able to enjoy some yummy food in a fun atmosphere that will entertain friends and family.
Keep Track of Harvest Times
One way to keep yourself on track with seasonal foods is to put their harvest times in your calendar. Not every fruit and vegetable that harvests in the summer is ripe during the same months. Expecting to find certain seasonal produce before it’s ready can be a disappointing experience, yet easily avoided. Have your calendar send you reminders so you keep the correct harvest seasons in mind.
Do some research on what particular months are harvest times for the fruits and veggies you wish to find. For example, farm-fresh strawberries, watermelon, and summer corn aren’t ready until June. And you’ll have to wait a month longer for plums, green beans, tomatoes, and kiwis.
Similarly, some fruits’ and vegetables’ harvest times end during the summer. Okra, pineapples, rhubarbs, and zucchini finish up their growing season in May. If you’re looking to snag one of these tasty items, make sure you know when to look.
Plan Summer Cookouts
Want to stay at home while still enjoying good food with friends and family? The warm weather is the perfect time for backyard cookouts and barbecues. Many times, these are organized for celebrating the Fourth of July, but you can plan one for any nice, summer day.
These cookouts usually involve grilled foods, like steak, hamburgers, and hotdogs. Or, you can go the barbecue route with pulled pork, ribs, or brisket. And don’t forget some of the classic side dishes, like potato salad, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. For dessert, throw in some popsicles or ice cream. You can even request your guests to each bring a dish to lessen your cooking load.
This classic summer activity is sure to attract a gathering, so make sure you plan in advance. You’ll need plenty of time to get everything organized. And make sure to incorporate some of the season’s fresh fruits and veggies into what you serve. For example, what cookout is complete without a bowl full of fresh, juicy watermelon?
Keep It Fun and Fresh
Sadly, summer doesn’t last very long. It only spans about three months in the U.S., so you’ll have to plan all you can within that time frame. You don’t want to miss out on all the fresh foods and fun activities the season has to offer! Start looking at what your community has to offer, from farmers markets to fairs, and have some delicious summer fun.