Fruits of Summer

June has me craving garden sweets. Rhubarb has been gracing my table for weeks; now strawberries are reddening to join it. In warmer areas, you’re probably anticipating blackberries, blueberries, and tart cherries before the month is out. As we roll into July, raspberries, apricots, and early plums will all start to appear. It’s hard to resist summer’s sweet bounty.

It’s also hard to overcome the desire for fruit out of season. Although American grocery stores stock nearly every vegetable imaginable all year, some fruits can be harder to come by outside their harvest window. Those that do appear year-round, or close to it, lack that fresh summer flavor that makes them so appealing. How they are grown is also of concern; more than half of the Dirty Dozen list (foods with the worst pesticide residue based on USDA and FDA data) is fruit. These are all good reasons to grow—and save—fruit yourself.
Read more about preserving the fruits of summer

Frittata

If you like quiche but hate to roll crust, or if you crave omelets but your homemade ones always turn into scrambled eggs, you really should be making frittata. This crustless quiche or open-face omelet is just as adaptable to the ingredients you have on hand as its more finicky cousins. You can eat it at any meal and serve it as a tapa or a main. What’s not to like?

My first memorable frittatas were made by a Spanish woman running a hostel in Greece, so in my mind a frittata must have potatoes and the best additional ingredients are tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, basil, and feta. I include the potatoes in my base recipe, but you can easily drop them and highlight other ingredients—or just use whatever’s in your fridge. Before summer crops explode, I tend to fill my frittatas with baby chard or spinach and herbs.
Learn to make Basic Potato Frittata and Spinach and Herb Frittata

Herb Infusions

Salt and sugar get a bad rap for their effects on our bodies when consumed in large quantities, but their ability to act as a preservative is often underappreciated. Salt and sugar prevent spoilage and make it difficult or impossible for undesirable bacteria to grow. The rule of thumb for salt curing is that 20% salt keeps most undesirable bacteria at bay.

Although dehydrating and freezing are the most common ways to preserve herbs, the rising popularity of artesian salts and infusions has brought attention to herbs preserved in salt or sugar. The preservative pulls moisture from the herbs while keeping their flavor intact. Leaves plucked from the jar can be used as though they were fresh. The remaining herbed salt works best as the finishing touch, but infused sugar can also work within a recipe. A little of the flavored salt or sugar goes a long way, and the herbs keep a long time.
Learn to make Salt-Preserved Herbs and Herb-Infused Sugar

Freezing Herbs

If I could have only one garden, it would teem with herbs. Many of these easy-to-grow plants survive any climate or soil and are among the first shoots to appear each spring. Most are either perennials that return without fail or annuals that self-seed so readily one seed packet produces a perpetual crop. Herbs thrive on usage; the more you snip and pluck, the happier they become. Although the plants are rarely showy, a garden that contains herbs and edible flowers such as nasturtium, calendula, and viola is as delicious to look at as it is to harvest from.

Although fresh is best, herbs are easily saved for meals year-round. A little goes a long way, so even a couple of balcony pots will likely produce enough for use throughout the season. Many herb savers dehydrate their harvest, but some herbs, like chives, taste better when frozen.
Learn how to freeze chives and make Herb Butter