By Sophia Hsu
New York City offers fantastic produce year round from local farmers at the green markets. The Asian markets around the city also offer a huge selection of produce at lower prices than you would find at a regular grocery store or at the open air markets. No matter where you go for your produce, specific fruits and vegetables can be found at all of the markets that hail summer.
The end of the berry season is the first sign that summer is here when you go to the farmer’s markets around the city. The strawberries are replaced by blueberries and eventually by gooseberries. This happens because the delicate berry bushes usually can’t withstand the heat and direct sunlight that comes with summer.
Tomatoes become more and more prevalent. The hydroponic and hot house tomatoes give way to the vine-ripened varietals, especially the heirloom and fancier boutique sorts. Green tomatoes become easier to find for the Southern-dish-turned-movie of fried green tomatoes. A great dish my grandmother would make for me in Taiwan was a simple stir-fry of ripe tomatoes, scallions, and eggs over rice.
Apricots are in abundance, and nearly every stand can offer ripe, sweet apricots. Try slicing one up in your next salad with a crumbled, sweet gorgonzola, and pecans. The summer apricots are so perfect that you can literally twist them in half and remove the pit like you would a cherry.
Leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and collard greens are finally large and leafy by mid-summer. They are a great source for lots of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. I really enjoy my Swiss chard with garlic and raisins.
Beets of all colors start showing up in the supermarkets and at the stands. If you prefer not to have the red-purple beets leaving stains on your kitchen counter, try golden beets for a change. They taste just as sweet but without the dye of the red-purples. Have them cooked in a salad with basil and goat cheese.
I’ve saved the best for last: HERBS! Herbs are beyond abundant during the summer, thriving on the sunshine. The air in the outdoor markets is peppered with the fragrance of basil, mint, dill, cilantro, and many other herbs you may not have heard of before. Try throwing in some mint into your next batch of lemonade for a refreshing twist on a summer classic.
I would like to thank Red Jacket Orchards, Eckerton Hill Farm, S. & S.O. Produce Farms, and James Durr Wholesale Florists at the Union Square Green Market for letting me capture the peak of summer produce in my photos.
Other indoor places to check out produce are Hong Kong Supermarket in Manhattan and Brooklyn Chinatowns, Fei Long Supermarket in Brooklyn Chinatown, and Assi Supermarket in Flushing Chinatown. For more information regarding green markets here in New York City, go to http://www.cenyc.org/ greenmarket. See you by the kale!