Image adapted from Flickr, jared_smith, CC BY-SA 2.0

We’re approaching Labor Day, and with the passing of this final summer holiday comes the official entry into the fall season. Before you bust out the heavy comforter, wool scarves, and jack-o-lanterns, don’t forget to relish the very last of summer’s fresh bounty! Here are the 6 summer foods you have to eat before they go out of season.

  1. Watermelon. The ultimate heat-quenching fruit, watermelon can truly be savored in the dead of summer—and rarely enjoyed in the same way any other season during the year. Even if you never find yourself craving watermelon, go ahead and treat yourself to a fresh one. Cut it open, slice it into thick wedges, and savor each juicy drop. You just may be amazed how tasty it is, and it may even remind you of the dog days of your childhood summers.
  2. Apricots. These underdogs of the stone fruits are typically only available spring through summer, and they’re a treat to enjoy when ripe. Smaller than peaches or nectarines, they’re a perfect small snack when you only want a hint of sugar. Slice them fresh and enjoy with jam or nut butter over whole grain bread, and perhaps a slice of cheese, and you’re in for a healthy midday summer lunch.
  3. Corn on the cob. Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one sloppy meal that includes good ol’ corn on the cob. Classically cooked on a grill (or better yet, a campfire!) for the ultimate smoky summer flavor, cobs can also be boiled for an indoor cooking session. Season the cobs with olive oil or butter to let their natural sweet flavor shine, or do it up Mexican-inspired and slather them in mayonnaise, spices, and crumbled cheese. If you’re one of the few that don’t like eating corn off the cob because the silk gets stuck inside your teeth, and least cook them on the cob, then slice off the kernels and enjoy with a fork or spoon.
  4. Blackberries. Unlike their prettier relatives, strawberries, or the more delicate relatives, raspberries, there’s something a bit woodsy and brambly about blackberries—they’re a bit rough around the edges and have a bit more tartness to their juicy berry flavor. Fresh blackberries take me back to being a child and seeing them grow wild in local forest preserves, or at local pick-your-own farm stands. They’re wonderful on their own, but for a special treat toss them with sugar and lime juice—or use them in place of your go-to berries for a seasonal summer pie.
  5. Rhubarb. It may already be too late in the season to find local rhubarb, but if you can still find it in your area—snag it! This tart backyard fruit is truly one of summer’s rarest gems, and worth treating yourself to each warm season. If you’re over the traditional strawberry-rhubarb culinary combo, try it in a pie, jam, or jelly recipe mixed with raspberries, blueberries, or cherries.
  6. Garden-fresh tomatoes. While you can find tomatoes in virtually any market year-round, nothing beats the flavor (and aroma!) of a truly fresh and locally grown tomato. And if you’re plucking them straight from the garden, they’re an absolute delight. Garden-fresh tomatoes have an unmistakable aroma: sweet, slightly spicy, and grassy. Take advantage of their last few weeks in season and eat them fresh in any way you like—sliced and tossed with basil and mozzarella, chopped and tossed into a homemade salsa, or simply sliced and sprinkled with sea salt or gomasio.

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Image adapted from Flickr, jared_smith, CC BY-SA 2.0