There is so much to love about the warm embrace of summer including the flavors and vibrant colors of summer produce. With every bite, summer reminds us of the juicy floral sweetness of peaches, crisp snap of cucumbers, succulent joy of cherries and the fiery zing of jalapeño peppers. As the seasons begin to transition, there is a desire to hold on to the joy of summer flavors a little bit longer.
Nature’s gift, our colorful summer fruits, and vegetables, not only delight our taste buds but also enrich our bodies and minds by providing a broader range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Simply adding an additional fruit or vegetable brings vibrant colors and textures to our eating experience, making meals more enjoyable. For those who want the flavors of summer to linger on, here are some suggestions to utilize that summer produce:
Freezer jam- Capturing the flavors of summer doesn’t have to involve cooking or knowledge of canning. Freezer jam is simple to make and preserves the spirit of summer for up to 3 months in your freezer. To make Strawberry Vanilla Freezer jam, just add pectin to mashed strawberries flavored with lemon juice, vanilla and sugar for a bright fruity jam.
Chutney– Chutney is a cross between jam and relish. Its harmonious flavor is made from fruits, vegetables and/or herbs with vinegar, sugar, and spices, adding flavor and color to a variety of dishes. Some favorite combinations are savory onion chutney with meat or atop a burger, apple chutney with cheese, or a mango chutney with seafood. Kiddos love mango chutney on grilled cheese sandwiches too. Think outside the box to create unique flavors by incorporating chutney into Greek yogurt or hummus.
Pickling-Fresh vegetables work best for pickling, and you can slice them in the preferred shapes. Thinly slice radishes, summer squash or red onion for an inviting crunch to dishes. Cut into spears the peeled carrots and cucumbers and immerse them in equal parts of vinegar (such as white, white wine, apple cider or rice vinegar) and water. Enhance the mix with your choice of fresh or dried herbs, garlic, whole peppercorns, and you are making those great summer flavors last. Quick pickled green beans is a low-calorie snack, tasty addition to a sandwich wrap, or a way to transform your ordinary Bloody Mary to extraordinary.
Relishes– Relishes are a delicious combination of chopped vegetables and/or fruits cooked in vinegar with spices for added flavor. Whether spread on sandwiches, stirred into sauces, or served alongside dishes, relishes offer an array of color, chunky texture, and tantalizing taste. Make the most of peak season peaches with a Peach relish to add summer sweetness to savory dishes such as pork or even atop a hotdog. It can even be that unexpected summery garnish for your martini.
As our days gradually get shorter, remember that you can hold on to summer flavors a little bit longer. With freezer jams, chutneys, tangy pickles, and relishes that burst with flavor, you can savor the summer bounty, providing a feast for the eyes and taste buds. Let’s embrace each season with open arms and an eager palate.