Making the Most of Summer’s Bounty

By Diane Kelchner

One of most people’s favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce. And, the best place to find the freshest and best selection is at your local produce stand or truck, where everything comes straight from the field to your table.

Peaches are always a favorite and the free stone variety will be widely available this month. When buying, choose firm to ripe fruit unless you want to eat them the same day. Always leave peaches on the counter until they are perfectly ripe. Then, you can put the uneaten fruit in the refrigerator for a short time. At K & M Produce Truck, my husband, James, and I sell McBee peaches – as most people would agree, they are really the best.

This month, almost all local vegetables will be at their peak. It is very important to choose firm, shiny vegetables – shiny means fresh. If a vegetable is dull looking, it’s days old. I’ve had people mention to me that our vegetables are so pretty. That’s because they’re new I tell them!

When buying fresh shelled butterbeans and peas, always make sure they’ve been shelled the day you buy them, and that they’ve been kept cool – if not they’ll sour. Your okra should be small, pretty and green for the best flavor. Through about mid-July, there will be plenty of corn.  The corn starts to dry up at the tips of the cob as the summer gets hotter and more humid.

July is a great time to eat local watermelons, too. Again, look for shiny skin and a hollow sound when you thump it. Cantaloupes are good now – they should smell sweet like bubble gum.

With all fresh vegetables, buy just before you are ready to cook and eat them. Don’t pick up that squash on Monday to cook on Saturday – wait until Thursday or Friday to shop for the weekend. Fresh vegetables lose nutrients after a few days. And, know what to refrigerate and not to refrigerate. Never put fresh tomatoes in the fridge, but cucumbers, squash, green beans, etc., can be kept in the crisper drawer. Lengthy cold storage takes away flavor and freshness – if you’ve ever bought peaches in the off season that sat on your counter and rotted without ever ripening, they were left too long in cold storage.

About this writer

  • Diane Kelchner

    Diane Kelchner

    Since 1992, James and Diane Kelchner and her partners have operated K & M Produce Truck, located on the corner of 79th Avenue and North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. Loved by locals and tourists alike, Diane’s truck is well known for its friendly service and delicious, fresh produce. Hours are Monday, 11am-5pm and Tuesday-Saturday,10:30am-5pm. Contact Diane at 843-230-6528.

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