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The July Seasonal Food Guide

Ah, summer! Summer summer summer. As mentioned in last month’s guide, it will be impossible to get through the amazingly abundant produce overflowing at markets everywhere. And this is exciting. The stone fruits are at their peak, the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are in full force or close to it, the tomatoes are coming in heavy, figs are arriving, corn is begging to be consumed. On the West Coast, our cool spring has caused some summer crops to be a little late to arrive, so if you’re finding that your melons, eggplant and cucumbers are still being shipped in from Mexico, that might be why.

And all of the activities of summer are quickly filling up our evenings and weekends: out of doors dining, weekend picnics at the park, camping, hiking, swimming, road trips, barbecues, firefly catching (will somebody send an express delivery from the East Coast?), days at the beach, nights at the campfire, triumphant summer music, and trashy summer reading. Oh yes. It’s all here. Dig in.


Little Gem Lettuce

LITTLE GEM LETTUCE is perhaps the perfect poster child for classic salad lettuce. They are petite, crisp, sweet and tender, and often described as a hybrid of Romaine and Butter lettuces in flavor and texture. They are absolutely perfect in salads and their firm texture makes them great for wrapping or serving small appetizers.



Crookneck Squash

CROOKNECK SQUASH: Squash, of course, is ridiculously prolific in the summertime. The varieties available are staggering. Besides the better-known zucchini, crookneck, pattypan and sunburst, there are numerous heirloom varieties. The flavor of young, tender summer squash is typically delicate, and as many of us know, the uses are limitless. It’s a vegetable that takes well to countless cuisines and preparations, from classic Italian summer pastas to Thai curries, and of course, the ubiquitous end-of-summer abundance of zucchini bread.




TARRAGON: Delicate and nuanced, tarragon has a flavor subtly reminiscent of anise. It’s a classic partner with fish and chicken, and one of four essential herbs in fines herbes (along with parsley, chives and chervil.) Tarragon is even used in a soda popular in Georgia and Armenia.



Red Plum

RED PLUMS: One of many illustrious members in the stone fruit family, plums are so common that they’re found wild on most continents with a temperate climate. Even in North America, which doesn’t produce any native plums commercially, you’ll find the sloe plum, used in sloe gin. Juicy and sweet with a tart edge, they’re a classic choice for preserves and summer desserts. They’re also tasty with meats, notably pork.




OKRA holds a funny place in the culinary world. Like cilantro, it’s often either loved or hated. Unlike cilantro, this polarizing effect is owed to its mucilaginous interior. Cook the pods whole to bypass this – and don’t write them off so quickly! Okra’s flavor is clean, bright and crisp, vaguely reminiscent of a mild green pepper. Okra frequently plays an essential role as a thickener in gumbo, the Louisiana classic. But you can also saute or batter and fry them. Or you can pickle them, as we’ll do this month.



New Potatoes

NEW POTATOES are the first young potatoes on the scene in late spring and summer. And while potatoes are readily available year round, these young darlings bear a thinner, more delicate skin, creamier texture and higher sugar content, making them a little sweeter. They hold their form better after cooking too. Of course, you can use them wherever you’d employ any potato, but know that these are especially great in any salad that calls for a potato.



Sea Beans

SEA BEANS: If you were to combine the flavor of an incredibly tart, slightly under-ripe green apple with the freshest briny scent of the ocean, you’d come close to the flavor of a sea bean. It is neither bean nor seaweed, but a saline-loving succulent. Also called glasswort or pickleweed, sea beans can be eaten raw, battered and fried (read this funny Gothamist piece – with recipe – on sea beans), sauteed, or pickled.




RASPBERRIES: Each individual raspberry is actually a collection of tiny fruits called drupelets. Like blackberries, raspberries are in the rose family, hence their brambles and thorns. It’s a delicate berry that doesn’t do so well with travel, which is why their price can sometimes be so high. Eat them as soon after purchase as you can, or freeze for future use.


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  • la domestique - July 8, 2011 - 9:51 am

    Hooray for the July food guide! As someone who grew up in the South, I’m super excited to see okra on the list! Yay for okra!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - July 8, 2011 - 11:45 am

    This is going to be a good month! I need okra help because I’ve really tried and failed. The way you described sea beans is spectacular. Now, to get my hands on them…ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie - July 8, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Love the tarragon! Always add it in my compound butters and it tastes really good in scrambled eggs, too. I’ve never seen or tasted the sea greens but am excited to see if I can score some around my town! :-)ReplyCancel

  • bianca - July 8, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    You’ve captured summers bounty so beautifully! Once again, a great round up!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - July 8, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    Oh, I’m really looking forward to that plum tarragon smash. I can *almost* already taste it! Lovely guide, as always…ReplyCancel

  • Tine - July 9, 2011 - 2:09 am

    I’m excited!ReplyCancel

  • Joanne - July 9, 2011 - 4:12 am

    I think you picked the best of the July fruits and veggies to showcase! Can’t wait for these recipes, especially the plum smash!ReplyCancel

  • Season with Reason - July 9, 2011 - 5:17 am

    Hooray for July! Okra is the sentimental favorite for this southerner in exile, but I look forward to them all.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - July 9, 2011 - 11:02 am

    @LaDomestique and @Season with Reason: I love that the Southern ladies are so enthusiastic about okra (feel free to chime in about that!)

    @NicoleD + @Stephanie: I must confess that I’m not sure whether sea beans are available in the midwest! I know that they grow on the coast (loving the salty ocean, of course.) I will look into this.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - July 10, 2011 - 7:08 am

    These are the posts that I wait so patiently for! Oh how I love looking at my favorite ingredients through your beautiful photographs!ReplyCancel

  • Katuskhan - July 10, 2011 - 11:07 am

    Terrific info! I wish I had found it sooner.ReplyCancel

  • kankana - July 10, 2011 - 9:36 pm

    Waiting to see all your creation . Such awsm collection of fruits and veggies.ReplyCancel

  • Heather @opgastronomia - July 10, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    Definitely in the ‘hooray for okra’ camp. Drooling over the teasers and anxiously awaiting these recipes!ReplyCancel

  • Jason McLeod - July 11, 2011 - 7:52 am

    Love your site, amazing photos and so great to read. My sister and I just started a blog and we read your posts always. Thank YouReplyCancel

  • The July Seasonal Food Guice | Yummly - July 11, 2011 - 8:58 am

    […] A great fresh produce guide for the month of July! […]ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - July 13, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    Thoroughly enjoying all of the summer produce. I look forward to trying the sea beans.ReplyCancel

  • July seasonal food guide « FoodieGaga - July 15, 2011 - 9:38 am

    […] month, take advantage of delicious summer produce with the July Seasonal Food Guide from It’s a real […]ReplyCancel

  • […] The Plum Tarragon Smash is part of The July Seasonal Food Guide. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] everything she posts.  You wouldn’t regret it AND you would learn a lot from her monthly Seasonal Food Guide.  It’s always full of fantastic ideas for using the best of what the farmers’ market […]ReplyCancel

  • […] This Summer Squash Salad with Little Gems recipe is part of the July Seasonal Food Guide […]ReplyCancel

  • Sherala - July 27, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    Everything looks beautiful. I am embarrassingly excited for pickled okra!ReplyCancel

  • […] The Sea Bean Pickles and Spicy Okra Pickles are part of the July Seasonal Food Guide. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] These Summer Berry + Mint Ice Pops are part of the July Seasonal Food Guide. […]ReplyCancel

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