The 10 best summer fruits

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Who doesn’t love strolling to the farmer’s market and grabbing a few pints of fresh summer fruit before heading out for a picnic on a weekend in July? The abundance of fruits and vegetables in summer is one of the greatest pleasures of the season. And although most fruit can (and should) be simply washed and eaten immediately, it is also fun to take these seasonal treats and use them in the kitchen, making good food even better. Here are ten of our favorite summer fruits, plus some ideas for exactly how to use them.

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Whether you’re growing your own, picking them wild, or just grabbing a few liters from a roadside stand, nothing beats fresh blueberries, bursting with flavor. We love cooking them in a sweet sauce to top everything from ice cream to cookies to meringue.

Find them: All summer in the Southeast, beginning in July in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest. Not grown locally in Southern California.

Try them in swirled meringues with blueberry sauce.

Sweet or sour, cherries are an absolute summer treat. We’d never say no to sitting on a dock and spitting the pits into the lake, but we also like to break out our cherry pitter to make a single-fruit salad.

Find them: June and July in most of the country, but as early as April in California.

Try them in a salad of cherries, mint and pistachios.

If you’re lucky enough to have a patch of wild blackberries that you know of, then you’ve probably spent time harvesting far more than you need. These sweet treats are at their best when they practically fall off the stem, and they’re best when used in the simplest dishes, like this light pie.

Find them: Late summer in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, all summer in the Midwest, South and California.

Try them in Blackberry Tart.

If you ask fifty people to name the most iconic summer fruit, it’s a safe bet that 49 people would say watermelon. (There is always this a guys.) One of our favorite ways to eat it is to slice it and marinate it in lime and mint, like a mojito.

Find them: Early June in the Midwest and South, July on the West Coast, and late summer in the Northeast.

Try it in Mojito Watermelon.

Freshly picked strawberries are similar to fresh tomatoes in that the ones you buy in season are simply incomparably better than the out of season hard stuff you find at the supermarket. It’s worth growing your own strawberries just to taste how good they can be.

Find them: Late spring to mid-summer in the South, June and July in the Northeast, May-August in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, and almost year-round in California.

Try them in Strawberry Almond Pie.

Sure, there’s this state that’s particularly known for its peaches — and they’re especially good — but as with all fruit, the fresher the better. So buy them locally wherever you live. Pick the ripest, juiciest ones you can and caramelize a batch on this upside-down cake.

Find them: Early July in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, late May in the South, June in the Midwest, and May-October in California.

Try them in Peach Upside-Down Cake.

If you start to see scratches on our arms, you know it’s raspberry picking season. We like to pair these dainty, tangy little berries with a little scoop of extra dark chocolate ice cream, or with almonds, oats and butter, in these breadcrumb bars.

Find them: All summer in the South, beginning in July in the Northeast, beginning in June in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, and beginning in April in California.

Try them at Raspberries Crumb Bars.

Fresh figs are one of nature’s most elusive and delicious foods, and one of our favorite things at the end of summer. At least once a year we load up the ripest bunches we can find, slice them up, drizzle them with honey and other toppings, then invite some friends over. If there’s enough left, we bake the rest into a rich fig crostata.

Find them: July-September in the South, July and August in the Pacific Northwest, August in the Midwest, and early June in California. (Not readily available locally in the northeast.)

Try them with goat cheese, honey and prosciutto, or in a Crostata with fresh figs.

Stone fruits of all kinds are delicious, of course, but apricots are in a category of their own. The season for fresh apricots always forces us to take out our canning equipment to make this divine jam.

Find them: March to June in California, June, July and August in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

Try them in apricot and lavender jam.

Of course, you can always find the seedless kind at the store, and they’re fine. But for those who know how to look, there are so many more: Concord grapes in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, muscadines in the south, Moon Drops and Sweet Jubilees from California. Eat them like cherries, spitting out the seeds. Or slice and seed them, and bake them into this deliciously good slab pie.

Find them: Start mid-summer in the South and Midwest, late summer in the Northeast, all summer and fall in California, and only beginning in fall in the Northwest Peaceful.

Try them in Grape Slab Pie.

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