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The August Seasonal Food Guide

The August Seasonal Food Guide

Hello August! A month dedicated to well-deserved getaways, picnics at the beach, county fairs, dog days, hot (August) nights, cruising with the top down, rodeos, reunions and reunion tours. It’s all here: the stone fruits, the peppers, the melons, the tomatoes, the berries, the magic. Dig on in. And get out of town.



WATERMELON: According to my favorite old-school produce guy, Joe Carcione, in Naples it’s said that watermelon is “the only way to eat, drink and wash your face at the same time.” They’re so close to perfect on their own that it’s challenging to do much else with them, although pairing them with a salty feta cheese is classic, they’re pretty tasty in an agua fresca, and this summer it seems that grilled watermelon is having its moment. This month I’ll be pickling the watermelon rind, inspired by the southern classic.



Cranberry Beans

CRANBERRY BEANS, also known as shell beans or borlotti, have a gorgeous pink and white speckle to them that is (sadly) lost during cooking. What’s not lost is their nutty flavor and all of the nutrients you’d expect from a bean. (Protein and fiber, of course!). You can use them where you would any shell bean: in soups, stews, with chicken and meats, or in dense summer salads.




CHERVIL‘s lacy green leaves are not unlike the green tops of carrots, to which they’re related. This delicate herb is one of the four classic herbs that comprise herbes fines of French cooking. It has a subtle fennel flavor with notes of parsley and is great with fish, eggs and dishes that would benefit from a touch of anise.




BLACKBERRIES are one of the most invasive and aggressive weeds of North America. But the lovely, tart-sweet, super juicy berries are a happy reward for their thorns and brutish tendencies. There is really nothing comparable to blackberries fresh off the vine; those in supermarkets are often picked before they’re ripe, and retain a tartness that does little justice to a vine-ripened berry. Like raspberries, blackberries are drupelets and are members of the rose family, hence their brambles, thorns and wild rose-like flowers. Perhaps you’d like to read about my blackberry jam-making adventures with a rice cooker in a rural motel in Idaho last summer.




TOMATILLO: A relative of the tomato in the nightshade family, tomatillos possess a sharp, tart flavor that is a welcome element in their most-known incarnation, salsa verde. They are recognized by their brownish, papery husk and bright green color, though they can ripen to shades of yellow and red but are rarely used that way. Partner them with an avocado for a sharp, vibrant salsa, as we’ll do this month.



Pacific Halibut

PACIFIC HALIBUT: Firm-fleshed and faintly sweet, halibut is an easy fish to love. It’s nutrient-rich (low in fat, high in minerals) and decidedly un-fishy, making it a great choice for people with reservations about seafood. (Not us, right?) In the sea, they’re aggressive and un-picky eaters, consuming any bottom-dweller with gusto. Due to overfishing and habitat depletion from poor fishing practices, Atlantic halibut should be avoided. Look for any halibut from California, Alaska, Washington, or British Columbia. Also check out SirenSeaSA, an awesome and entertaining wealth of information about halibut and other sustainable seafood.




WATERCRESS grows wild along the banks of streams and creeks, and has come to be known best for its role in manicured tea-time sandwiches. But it’s a versatile green, possessing a bite not unlike arugula, and can be paired with fish, roast beef, or tossed in salads. It’s related to nasturtium, which accounts for the peppery flavors of both.



Yellow Peaches

The YELLOW PEACH has an intense, floral fragrance that is a great indicator of its ripeness. In fact, I just learned that many of those small, finger-sized bruises on the skin of a peach are due to our habit of squeezing them to determine their state. Apparently this is a no-no. Peaches come to us from China; there are over 2,000 varieties. The yellow peach tends to be juicier and softer-fleshed than white varieties of peach, making it great for eating out of hand or preserving. We all know the peach’s pride of place in summery baked desserts or alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream; they’re also great in chutneys, served with pork or grilled on the barbeque.


  • Cookie and Kate - I am totally obsessed with your seasonal food guides. I’ve been eating lots of watermelon, blackberries and peaches lately. It doesn’t get better than fresh fruit at their peak!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Hooray for August! I’m growing baby watermelons in my garden and will be excited to try your pickling recipe. Halibut is possibly my favorite white fleshed fish, and blackberry jam is the!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - Stunningly beautiful, as always. I need to take your advice and find a weekend to get out of town. It’s been all work and no play these days.

    (p.s. chervil is missing its “this month” headline…)ReplyCancel

  • Heather @opgastronomia - Looks like a good month of cooking and eating is ahead! Brava for your ambitious jam making adventure – taking a rice cooker on road trips is absolutely genius.

    ps. So happy you’re spreading the peach squeezing message – just think of all the beautiful peaches you’re saving!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - I love August, but that means September is just around the corner and there goes summer produce. Wah.ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - Looking forward to these recipes! I need to get more info on pickled watermelon rind :)ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - Haha! Just wait to see what I feature in my post tomorrow. Let’s just say it’s one of the recipes you mention here.

    Another fabulous post, my dear. These are some of my favorites. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) - What a wonderful post. I just LOVE the produce you chose to highlight. I can’t wait to get some fresh beans. Cranberry beans are a favorite of mine too.ReplyCancel

  • Season with Reason - Can’t wait for the cranberry bean post either! We are big bean eaters in this household (and grains) – it’s a good compromise for me (the would-be vegetarian) and my husband (the bbq loving KC native). Help us keep the peace!ReplyCancel

  • Annie - Thank you for your seasonal guides! August and September hold some of my favorite produce here in the mid-West. Beautiful photos and words to go with them keep me coming back. Silent fan for some time now. Just couldn’t do it today. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - I love this month in the food department. I’ve never cooked with cranberry beans – look forward to your recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Dalzell - I love your blog. I try to do a bit each month about seasonal foods and I am sure I will be referring my readers here each month. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • kankana - Great selection and Aug is one of my fav month :) I am excited to see the halibut dish .. i am seafood lover :)ReplyCancel

  • News Feed: August 11, 2011 | The JBF Blog - […] A gorgeous guide to the seasonal foods of August. [Year in Food via Food52] […]ReplyCancel

  • The August Seasonal Food Guide » The Year In Food | Empowering Women to Change | - […] The August Seasonal Food Guide » The Year In Food Hello August!A month dedicated to well-deserved getaways, picnics at the beach, county fairs, dog days, hot (August) nights, cruising with the top down, rodeos,… Source: […]ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - I can’t wait until local fresh peaches make it to our farmer’s markets! Dang it, slow summer!!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Larsen - This is gorgeous. Thanks for the Siren shoutout! Let’s get together and pickle some stuff really really soon.ReplyCancel

  • Laken - I love being able to walk to the fence line and pick blackberries – it’s one of my favorite things of summer. I made jam last year that we were still snacking on this spring…I might just have to do it again.ReplyCancel

  • Nikole - THANK YOU for all the NYC recommendations! And this post is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - Joe Carcione sounds like quite a character, and I have to agree with him about watermelon’s err…cleansing qualities ;) That’s the joy of summer fruit though. Messy, sweet, intense all at once. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Maria @ Orchard Bloom - I love your seasonal food guides. beautiful and informative!ReplyCancel

  • Maria @ Scandifoodie - I am so looking forward to the spring produce here in Australia! And can’t wait to start planting my kitchen garden again! ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Julie Marie - i love how the photos look like portraits. So simple in the best wayReplyCancel

  • nicole franzen - beautiful as always! love these monthly food guides :) bummed I didnt have more time in SF, next time!ReplyCancel

  • SALSA VERDE WITH AVOCADO » The Year In Food - […] This Salsa Verde with Avocado recipe is part of the August Seasonal Food Guide […]ReplyCancel

  • Getting Lost in the Woods; Fresh Cranberry Bean Hummus » The Year In Food - […] This Cranberry Bean Hummus recipe is part of the August Seasonal Food Guide […]ReplyCancel

  • Jane - I love cranberry beans, but not sure where to find them in San Francisco. Does anyone know?ReplyCancel

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