Local farmer’s markets transitioned from a scant selection of burgeoning spring produce to full blown summer harvest in a matter of one or two weeks. While the summer season typically just gets rolling with the start of June, this year vendors are pulling all the big guns out early leaving little to the shopper’s imagination.
Last weekend at the Burke market I was stunned to see bushels over flowing with blushing peaches that were not only ripe, but juicy and fragrant. More surprising was the abundance of deep crimson tomatoes and heirloom varieties that lined more than one stall. This time of year I am content to find small bushels of sungold cherry tomatoes, whose orange flesh is plump and sweet enough to tide me over until real tomato season hits in August. Sticking with my belief that the larger variety needs a few more weeks on the vine, I picked up several pints of the little guys and did not regret it.
While strawberries may have come and gone, the parade of berries continues with chubby blueberries and voluptuous raspberries that are every bit as delicious. Also making an entrance are summer melons, but from my experience the verdict is still out on whether they are at the height of their true splendor. Farmers looking for the sell will no doubt tell you one thing, but it is a real shame to get one home and crack into it only to find the flesh insipid and devoid of any real flavor.
Fortunately the arrival of eggplant is far from a letdown. If you have yet to taste this nightshade at the peak of its season, then you may only be acquainted with its spongy, bitter impostor who masquerades at the local supermarket. These farm fresh examples, now available in long, squat and oblong shapes, have velvety sweet flesh that are quick to cook up on the grill. They are not to be missed.