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July is a month of abundance at the farmers market. Tables and displays are packed with peak-of-the-season vegetables and fruits that are perfect for eating right now. Here are my favorite farmers markets finds for July.

Peaches

Peaches
Photo by Meredith
| Credit: Meredith

Few things taste better just-picked then peaches. A quick-to-bruise stone fruit, peaches are a challenge to keep in good shape, so they seldom make it to grocery stores at the peak of their sweetness, making them an imperative farmers-market choice. The season is short – anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks - so stock up while you can. Choose fruit that is slightly soft, but not mushy. Unripe fruits will ripen on the counter in 1 to 2 days, and are preferred for pies and preserves.



How to Use Peaches

Most people think of peach pie, which is a must at least once in summer. Cobblers, too, make for a delicious peach dessert and are easier to throw together and bake. I like to fill my freezer with peach slices and add them to a smoothie every morning.

Your step-by-step guide to making the perfect summer pie.



This gorgeous smoothie is made with Greek yogurt and coconut milk.

Georgia Peach Smoothie
Photo by lutzflcat



Peaches transition well into savory recipes, too. They have a prominent acidic bite that becomes more pronounced when cooked and lends a balanced flavor to meals. Add a few slices to your gravies or sauces and cook until the peaches are falling apart and the sauce turns thick.


Browse dozens of peach recipes


Cucumbers

whole and sliced fresh cucumbers
Photo by Meredith
| Credit: Meredith

While commercially-grown cucumbers are available all year long, July brings in scores of cucumber varieties that are only available in summer, with new options introduced seemingly every year. Lemon cucumbers, a thin yellow-skinned cucumber, have a slightly lemon-y flavor and big, fleshy centers. Persian cucumbers are long, narrow, and thin-skinned with small seeds and tender flesh – no peeling necessary. Pickling cucumbers tend to be thick, short, and prickly and are best used in pickles. Their flesh is firm and often tastes bitter when eaten raw, but their strong character makes for a crispy pickle that will store well for many months.

Cucumbers keep for several weeks in the fridge. Wrap in a single layer of linen or paper towel and keep in the crisper drawer. This allows the cukes to breath and prevents decay from close contact with other veg.

How to Use Cucumbers

These summer fruits are best eaten fresh and raw. Sliced into green leaf salads, or made into simple salads on their own, nothing beats the refreshing, cooling quality cucumbers offer.

This refreshing salad is a great make-ahead dish for BBQs and parties.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad. Photo by lutzflcat
Photo by lutzflcat

Pureed, cucumbers are an excellent option for chilled summer soups. They easily blend into smooth liquids and can be combined with garlic, almonds or even other fruits.



This is similar to a classic gazpacho, but with no tomato or pepper.

Chef John's White Gazpacho. Photo by Chef John
Photo by Chef John

In many cultures, cucumber is historically used in yogurt sauces meant for dressing salads, as a side to grilled meats or as a dip or a Tzatziki sauce. And of course, cucumbers make excellent pickles. Be sure to choose a pickling variety, which will hold up in vinegar over an extended period of time.


Browse Our Collection of Cucumber Recipes


Cherries

Cherries
Photo by Meredith

There are essentially two kinds of cherries – sweet cherries and acid cherries, which are often called "pie cherries." Sweet cherries are delicious eaten raw and include popular varieties like Bing and Rainer. Acid cherries are the quintessential pie cherry – their acidic nature compliments the sweetness from desserts and while they can be eaten fresh, they are often used in baking and canned goods. Choose cherries that are firm and have good color – steer clear of overly soft fruits.



Cherries can be stored under a mesh fruit net on the counter, or wrapped in linen or paper towels, in a single layer, and kept in the fridge.

How To Use Cherries

Cherries are perfect when eaten fresh, of course. Add the fruits to salads and bowls of ice cream. Blended into a refreshing cocktail, they lend a festive feel to summer aperitifs.

While most will think of sweet recipes, cherries make an excellent addition to savory dishes, as their acid levels compliments richness found in fats from meat. They pair well with grilled onions, and together this combination will act as a relish for any grilled meats. For use all year long, turn a batch of cherries into a savory sauce and preserve them.



"Lightly floured chicken pieces with the sweet flavoring of dark cherries and orange slices make a great entree." -- Daveeda, recipe submitter.

Cherry Chicken. Photo by Cookie
Photo by Cookie

And what would cherry season be without a stellar dessert?! This year, spare yourself the effort of pie crust and put a tart together quickly with a sable crust. Here, the edges are folded up and over the cherries, making for a no fuss, easy summer dessert.