The last time we checked in on New York's Greenmarkets, it already seemed like high summer. The market was so overflowing with every imaginable berry, huge bunches of greens, summer squash, broccoli, lettuce, green garlic, and greenhouse tomatoes, it felt like nothing else could fit. Sure is a big change from early-summer when we were all fighting over ramps.
But here's the truth. It's not until you find a juicy sun-ripened tomato--even if they do call it "hairloom"--then buy it and eat it on the spot like an apple, that summer has really arrived. And that day has certainly come.
Another sign of summer, along with the season's first juicy tomatoes, is sweet corn. At the market it's piled up next to empty cardboard boxes where you can toss the shucked leaves you pull off on the spot.
Corn from the market, possibly more than any other vegetable, truly tastes different than its grocery store counterpart. Farmers claim they get their water boiling before running out to snip off the cobs from the plant. Just after it's picked, the sugars begin turning rapidly to starch. Good market corn needs nothing more than copious butter, but my other favorite preparation is to grill it, then slather with mayo, cayenne, and crumbly Mexican cheese.
Stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and nectarines are also appearing. At the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Wednesday market (just around the corner from the U.N.), those who weren't shoveling peaches into bags were asking when vendors would be selling homemade peach cobbler. We still have a few weeks to go until peaches are at their peak sweetness. Look for vendors selling peaches that are tree-ripened, meaning they are sweet and firmer fruits, which are usually in the best shape by the time they reach the market.
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Yuno's Farm (at the Union Square Market Mondays and Friday; Wednesday at Dag Hammarskjold) was my favorite find this time around. Although it was their unusual heirloom tomatoes that drew me closer, a little more exploring revealed the most unique spread of vegetables in the market: rare heirloom peppers, (Shishito and Fushimi) greens and herbs, (Calaloo and Thai basil) and unusual variations of other vegetables (burpless cucumbers).
Of course, abundant quantities of the rest of the summer vegetables are everywhere, including herbs, lettuces, garlic, beets, potatoes, and zucchini. While young onions have already been available for a few months, larger, mature plants are now here. The varieties of summer squash has multiplied substantially.
I didn't see any yet, but there's also word of the season's first watermelons.
What's in Season
Summer squash / zucchini (and blossoms)
Stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines)
Peppers (bell and chili)
Cookable greens (chard, kale, spinach)
String and flat beans
More stone fruit varieties
More heirloom tomatoes
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.