September is upon us, and that means the unofficial end to summer is only weeks away. If you do nothing else this upcoming holiday weekend, make sure you get to a local farm stand and collect the last of these late-summer finds, so many of which will be exiting, stage left, come the first weeks of September.
Although the corn harvest will technically go into early fall, late August finds North Fork corn at its absolute peak. Not only is local corn abundant, but it’s also relatively inexpensive. Find it at a host of local farm stands and farmer’s markets and enjoy it during this fleeting window.
Tomatoes find their footing in late August. If you ever stared at a grocery store version in the middle of winter and wondered why anyone ever bothered eating a tomato in the first place, well, perhaps you’ve never tried a North Fork tomato around Labor Day. Local farms carry everything from traditional varieties (think fist-sized Beefsteaks) to colorful heirlooms (Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Paul Robeson).
Late summer is the time of year for melons, and you should enjoy them while they’re in their prime. That means everything from cantaloupes to different types of heirloom watermelons, some of which even have yellow-colored flesh.
Although some types of stone fruit, like peaches, ripen earlier in summer, plums take their sweet time. By Labor Day Weekend, these fruits have come into their own. There are too many interesting and diverse types of plum to list here, so take a trip to your local market and peruse the wares. These fruits can be eaten raw, can be cooked in savory preparations, and can be baked into pies, cakes, and galettes.
Bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, serranos, habaneros… the list goes on. The season of peppers is among us, and it’s a great time to take advantage of an exciting category of produce. Hot peppers can be dehydrated in the oven and saved in mason jars for use during those produce-light winter months. As for the sweet pepper varieties, there are tons of uses for those, too, from pasta preparations to vegetable stews to pizzas. They can even be pickled for the long, cold months ahead.
The last of the nectarines are still in season right around Labor Day, and it’s definitely worth stocking up on them for a juicy fruit bowl or for that pie you’ve been meaning to make. Stone fruits will be on their way out, come the beginning of September, so consider this weekend the last gasp when it comes to summer fruit.
Also a member of the melon family, cucumbers shine for most of summer, but their productivity starts to wane come late August. Collect as many as you can for salads, quick pickles, and a fun boost to cocktails before they make their annual departure.