We’re already feeling wistful about those golden-hued days of lolling in the summer sun with our bright watermelon wedges, grinning over our cobs of fresh corn, and getting our faces sticky as we dig into our juicy peaches. Silhouetted by the setting sun, we recall those juicy, sweet days gone by. Sigh.

Well, it’s not too late to embody the cliché: “Today is a gift. Enjoy the present.” Get going and do something with the bounty around you as the season ends. It’s your duty to love what you got. Do your duty.

1. Corn


Combine your love of munching on summer’s sweet corn on the cob left-to-right like an old-fashioned typewriter with the coming chill of fall by making a batch of this soup. It takes those golden (or sugar-white) kernels and incorporates them into a chowder that’s creamy like the New England clam chowder variety. But this one has bacon. Get our Summer Corn Chowder recipe.

2. Peaches


Some of us are eating a peach a day while the local late-summer bounty lasts because you can’t compare the juiciness and sweetness with what you get shipped in year-round. The heavenly nectar just squirts right out when you take a bite! So hurry and make this crazy-good and super-easy dish that you can pass off as an appetizer, hors d’oeuvres, or dessert. Get our Peach and Hazelnut Mascarpone Bruschetta recipe.

3. Watermelon

Nutrition Secrets

When it’s hot outside, food with a high water content quenches your thirst as well as hunger. Watermelon delivers on its name. And it’s such a summer fruit. This drink is such a summer drink, too, with the rum, lemon juice, and raspberry liqueur. Try it. Get our Watermelon Lemonade Cocktail recipe.

4. Summer Squash

Cheat Sheet

Zucchini bread gets all the love, but you can make a savory quick bread with any summer squash, from pattypan and crookneck to the more familiar yellow squash and zucchini. The squash is cheap and easy, two qualities that may be controversial in some senses, but here, it’s right on the mark. This bread also has feta in it, which is a surprising, salty twist. Get our Savory Summer Squash Quick Bread recipe.

5. Tomatoes


Oh, tomatoes. The greenhouse-raised or shipped-from-afar varieties just, well, suck. They’re often watery and tasteless. Grow your own indoors during winter if you can. Otherwise, make all the Caprese, salsa, and other raw tomato recipes you can now. This tomato salad keeps it real, letting your tastebuds focus on the fresh tomato flavor at hand, without getting distracted from too much else, besides some fresh herbs. Get our Herbed Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe.

6. Mint


Maybe you can grow this lovely wakening herb indoors, so not all hope is lost during the winter doldrums. You don’t have to settle for gum, toothpaste and that artificially green mint chocolate chip ice cream. But the fresh mint you grow outside or buy from a farmers market is simply wonderful. And in this not-your-typical salad we suggest, you can enjoy a few other types of summer produce. Get our Fennel, Mint, and Avocado Salad recipe.

7. Cucumbers


Cucumbers are like the watermelon of the vegetable world. They’re so fluid, it’s almost like you can drink them. Sure, you can pickle them for winter snacking and sandwiches, but get in some more while they’re fresh. This salad idea combines the creamy tang of sour cream and fresh herbs for a simple side that still sings with flavor. Get our Creamy Cucumber Salad recipe.

8. Beets


Five or six beets, the more multicolored the better, mixed with lemon juice and capers and walnuts, muted with some crème fraîche, makes a tantalizing salad of varying textures and tastes. Give beets more of a showing before the show’s over. Get our Beet Salad recipe.

9. Lima Beans

CD Kitchen

These summer beans are buttery, smooth and filling as beans should be. But they’re almost like vegetables. Except not. They make great succotash, a Southern bacon-infused salad with corn, black-eyed peas, and onion. Get our Halibut with Orange-Parsley Butter and Succotash recipe.

10. Strawberries

Serving Joy

The difference between a fresh, locally grown strawberry and a standard supermarket strawberry grown out of season is quite real. Biting into its paler doppelganger makes us miss that naturally sweet, so-strawberry flavor that comes only from summer. But seriously, it’s not too late for ice cream with whatever strawberries you can find. Get our Fresh Strawberry Ice  Cream recipe.

11. Cherries


These bite-sized stone fruits have such a short time in the sun and in our local markets. We already feel the ache of nostalgia. If you can still get your hands on some fresh cherries, make a cherry dessert classic that must be served a la mode, like cherry pie … or even easier, get our Fresh Cherry Cobbler recipe.

12. Cilantro

Simply Scratch

If you aren’t one of those people biologically wired to abhor cilantro because it tastes like soap to you, then you probably love it. Most people aren’t ho-hum about this herb that makes its way in many Mexican-inspired dishes. So many recipes call for a handful of this fresh, pungent herb. Try this one: Get our Vietnamese-Style Summer rolls with Peanut Sauce recipe.

13. Lavender


How often do you cook with lavender? If you’re like us, not often. Now’s the time, though. Put some lavender in the spice or coffee grinder and then mix it up with some sugar and put it in your iced green tea, sugar cookies, vanilla cake, whatever sounds good to you. With only two ingredients and no cooking involved, this lavender-infused gin recipe sounds good to us. It’s a sophisticated, yet easy thing to do. Get our Lavender-Infused Gin recipe.

14. Dill


Fresh dill jumps out at your from the meat, vegetables, potatoes it accompanies. It’s an underrated herb that’s so much more than a pickle companion. But we’re down with dill in all of its ways. Get our Herbed Potato Salad recipe.

15. Blueberries


Last — but might as well be first for how loved they are — are blueberries, the jewels of summer dessert. Make your muffins, pies, cobblers, crumbles, pancakes, scones, and other baked goodness, but then there’s lighter way to highlight the smoothest of berries. Get our blueberry-topped Açaí Bowl recipe.

What's in Season When

The Ultimate Summer Produce Guide, from Apricots to Zucchini
Amy Sowder is a writer and editor based in NYC, covering food and wellness in publications such as Bon Appétit, Women's Health, Eat This, Not That!, Upworthy/GOOD, Brooklyn Magazine, and Westchester Magazine. She loves to run races, but her favorite finish lines are gelato shops. Learn more at AmySowder.com.
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