For many people, August signals the end of summer. Soon, thoughts of fall will start pouring in like pumpkin spice lattes. As much as we like a frothy coffee that tastes like jumping in a pile of leaves, we're not quite ready for summer to be over....
Here in Virginia, there are still plenty of warm days, balmy nights, and sunny afternoons made for spending outdoors–so those fall flavors are going to have to hold on for just a little bit longer. The farm markets in Virginia are overflowing with delicious and fresh produce. We love a good recipe as much as a perfectly ripened peach, so we asked some of our FOODIES to share their must-try summer recipes featuring fresh fruits and vegetables. Get inspired by this all this yum in our MAKE Section.
While the weather continues to keeps us sweating, it also provides southern farmers with a few more weeks of delicious summer vegetables and fruits from their fields. In fact, many fruits and vegetables are at the peak of perfection during August. Here are a few varieties of produce that you can can look out for in farmers markets all over Virginia. (We also have an easy downloadable guide for you to use!)
August means peaches, and not much tastes as better than a sun-warmed, juicy peach newly plucked from the tree. Late summer peaches are freestone peaches, the variety in which the stone easily lifts out. That means that these peaches are great for preserving, so you can can them or dry them for winter consumption. If you're not into preserving, you can eat them fresh or bake them into a cobbler or pie. Remember to taste your peaches to determine how much sugar you need to use.
Whether you prefer cantaloupe or watermelon, these low-calorie, water-dense orbs are the perfect way to cool off on a humid August afternoon. Check out unusual varieties of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew available at Virginia farmers markets all throughout August.
Whether you like sweet peppers or hot peppers, August ushers in the full scope of peppers at the farmers markets all over the Commonwealth. While bell peppers are perennial favorites, don't be afraid to try some new things. Sweet peppers like Anaheim, yellow banana peppers, or Juanita can be eaten plain or sliced onto a platter with a variety of dips. Hot peppers like the jalapeno, chili, or cayenne can kick up the heat in salsas, tacos, and other dishes.
Sweet corn is a favorite of adults and kids alike. You can simply cook corn cobs the old fashioned way, by dropping the cleaned ears into a pot of boiling water or throwing them on the grill with melted butter and seasoning. If there are any left over ears, just slice the kernels off of the cob, scoop them into a freezer bag, freeze it, and enjoy the corn again during the winter.
Lightly sweetened but still filling and nutritious, pears start coming off of Virginia trees in August. Eat Bartlett or D'Anjou pears out of your hand. Moonglow and Harvest Queen pears offer less gritty fruits for those who are sensitive to textures.
Whatever you like to eat, you are sure to find plenty of things to enjoy at farmers markets in August. Besides fruits and vegetables, you may also find flowers, fresh eggs, grass fed meats, and organic, fresh milk. Talk to the farmer, learn about his or her growing practices, what's going on at the farm, and why they do what they do.
Summer tomatoes from Virginia farmers markets are a completely different flavor from the anemic, pale, grocery store fruits bearing the same name. If you have never tasted a tomato fresh off of the vine, you are missing one of the greatest pleasures in life. Tomatoes come in a variety of shapes and colors. Large, purplish tomatoes like the Cherokee Purple are perfect for slicing onto a sandwich or burger or eating fresh. Smaller paste tomatoes like the Roma and Opalka make wonderful sauces and salsas. Coming in shades of red, pink, burgundy, yellow, orange, and green, different varieties of tomatoes offer a rainbow of flavors with which the cunning cook can experiment.