There is so much fresh produce ripening in Michigan this month, that you can plan nearly every meal around it. Farmers markets continue to be your best source of locally-grown fruits and veggies, but many grocers also buy their produce directly from local farms or Eastern Market during this season, so access is plentiful.
To find the farmers markets in your area, or in an area to which you are traveling, consult this excellent map from the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). If you really want to grow your family’s appreciation for food and have some summer fun, visit one of the state’s many U-Pick Farms and harvest your own.
Most of the items we told you about last month remain in season, but there’s a big increase in delicious, readily available local fruits. Here are some crops that are coming in season in July…
Basil Fresh basil can really liven up a salad, pasta, tomato soup, and so many other dishes. This month you’ll find fresh cuts available in markets, and may also consider buying a plant from a local nursery to grow your own on a countertop or in a garden.
Blueberries While frozen blueberries and blueberry products are available all year, there’s nothing quite like fresh ones, which are abundant from now until September. With over 600 family farms growing and harvesting the gems, Michigan leads the nation in blueberry production. Did you know we grow over 30 different varieties?
Cucumbers Here in Michigan, we mostly turn our cukes into pickles. Throughout the year you can find delicious varieties from McClure’s, Topor’s, Safies, Tall Paul’s, and Duda’s Dills, just to name a few. This month and next, however, you can find locally grown, fresh and delicious cucumbers to enhance salads, sandwiches, and water, all around the state.
Eggplant Whether you like to bake it, grill it, or add parmesan to it, this purple, pear-shaped fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) can be delish! It can also be bitter, especially as time goes on. Experts advise buying it as fresh as possible, and using it quickly.
Peaches Early in the month, peaches make their appearance. Most are grown in the west central to southwest corner of the state, near Lake Michigan, and in the east along Lake St. Clair. In particular, look for the Red Haven variety, which has drawn acclaim for the state throughout the nation.
Peppers Green, orange, red, yellow…a rainbow of peppers hit markets beginning in July and continuing through August and September. You may also find Banana, Cayenne, Hungarian Wax, and Jalapeño. Peppers do not typically have a long shelf life, so it is best to use them within the first week or two that they are harvested. You may also wash, cut, and freeze them.
Plums These juicy fruits begin to be available locally around mid-month. The most common varieties in Michigan have blue-black skin and yellow flesh, though you may occasionally find local plums with a redish skin as well.
Potatoes We may as well be known as “The Great Chip State,” since we are the leading producer of potatoes grown for chip purposes. That is why you can find so many unique and delectable options throughout the year from the likes of Better Made, Downey’s, Great Lakes, and Uncle Ray’s. The harvest for fresh potatoes begins this month and continues through October.
Raspberries These sweet treats are so delicious, that we don’t even mind the seeds that get caught in our teeth when we eat them. You can find these locally-grown typically through August.
Summer Squash Michigan-grown summer squash is available from July-September. The most common are Yellow (Crookneck) and Zucchini. You may also try Pattypan, Straightneck, and White Scallop. When selecting your squash, be sure it is firm and has no bruises, nicks, or soft spots. Summer squash can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or even baked into bread.
Tomatoes There’s nothing quite like eating a tomato that has been freshly plucked from the vine. It’s one of our state’s great tastes of summer. This scrumptious, seasonal sensation begins to ripen at the end of the month.
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